Amnesty: A Novel
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|Format:||Paperback, 206 pages, New edition Edition|
|Published In: ||United States, 09 May 1996|
The death of her father forces Maura to confront the ghosts of her childhood, and begin to live her life on her own terms. Nominated for a Lambda Literary Award.
This uneven first novel, about a young woman prompted by the death of her father to excavate a miserable childhood, fails to achieve its potential but is distinguished by a stylistic fierceness that commands attention. Maura Jaeger, 30, is a lonely lesbian teaching English at a rural Pennsylvania college when she's summoned home to bury her father, whom she hasn't seen for almost 13 years. Maura's memories of his cruelty spin the narrative back to 1968, when her eldest brother, Zach, dodged the draft, bringing disfavor on the family. As the story moves slowly forward to 1988, impressive highlights include the return of Maura's other war-weary brother, Colin, from Vietnam, where he'd gone to fight in a futile attempt to win his parents' approval, and poignant, sharply observed scenes of Maura's budding sexuality and her attempts at salvation through writing. The narrative is marred by Maura's overly self-conscious alienation, however, and by the lack of depth of most of the characters. The funeral scene, in which Maura, Colin and Mrs. Jaeger see Zach for the first time in 20 years, fizzles because of the flat portrayals. After setting up a classic family confrontation through a wealth of background and impassioned writing, Blum winds up showing us not much more than emotionally wounded people whom time has done little to change or heal. (Apr.)
These two first novels illustrate how tricky and delicate it is to go home again out of family obligation and concern and to hang onto your self-respect once you get there‘especially when you've been estranged from your parents for a long while not for what you've done but for who you are. This is exactly the situation that Dixie faces in Getting to the Point. Dixie's grandmother is dying, so she goes home to help care for her over the summer. But her father, Ed, an insecure, self-righteous bigot, has never forgiven Dixie for ending her marriage and living as a lesbian. As a result, he alternates between hostility and coldness during Dixie's visit. In this climate, no healing or reconciliation will ever take place. But Dixie begins to speak up for herself, supported by her mother, her grandmother, and her lover, Sarah. Unfortunately, though Stores is good at creating tension between characters through dialog and plot line, her writing isn't very polished, and her characters are often stereotypes or caricatures. Still, the issues she raises about healing old wounds are important. In Amnesty, Maura goes home to bury her father. Like Dixie, she is ambivalent about returning since her parents threw her out of the house 13 years earlier for having had a relationship with a high school girlfriend. Shifting back and forth from the late 1960s up to the late 1980s, this book describes Maura's brother's exile to Canada to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War as well as her own exile several years later. In both cases, her father, a lonely, bitter man who has retreated into alcohol, disapproved of and rejected his children. Maura can't reconcile with him now, but she may be able to make peace with her mother and brothers. Or can she? Blum's writing is polished and strong. She makes the sadness and emptiness of her characters so real that readers are pulled right into the story as it unfolds. This is the first novel for both writers, although Blum has been published before in three anthologies. Recommended for general readers.‘Lisa Nussbaum, Euclid P.L., Ohio
|Publisher: ||Alyson Publications Inc|
|Dimensions: ||19.0 x 12.0 x 1.0 centimeters (0.28 kg)|