Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyThis first novel by the author of the short story collection Not a Free Show is an intimate, wrenching portrait of individuals shattered by an untimely death. The narrative opens--and closes--with the fatal car crash of 20-year-old Ken Gold. Schulman lifts her story out of time, going backward to show the family a year before Ken's death, ruptured by the parents' divorce; further back to his childhood; and further still to his parents' courtship. She moves forward to a year, then five years, after his death, to a decade later. Schulman bends not only time but perspective, giving the points of view of many characters--relatives, friends, bystanders. Ken's mother copes with the horror of outliving her child, abandoning her work as a guidance counselor because ``the uncertainty of young people's futures makes her crazy; all she can imagine are tragic endings.'' Grief incapacitates Ken's sister, who's ``determined to do nothing with her life.'' Ken's brothers, less able to articulate their loss, feel it just as deeply. In luminous prose that is comic as well as lyric, Schulman measures the love, anger and pain that charge our deepest relationships. (July)
Library Journal - Library JournalTwenty-year-old Kenneth Gold has died after slamming his car into a tree. His loss constitutes the central event casually or agonizingly remembered by near strangers, close friends, and family. The chapters, written from these varied points of view, set in times before and after Ken's death, relate self-contained short stories connected by this single thread rather than an unbroken narrative. Ken is the golden boy, the linchpin of a shattered family whose absence creates a vortex which threatens to engulf the lives of those closest to him. In its exploration of untimely death, resentment of the living, and guilt of survival this first novel is thematically similar to Judith Guests's Ordinary People ( LJ 5/1/76) but provides a wider if not deeper range. One finishes this book wanting to know more about nearly every character--a credit to the author's skill. Recommended for most fiction collections.-- Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.
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