Greg Johnson Pagan Babies

ISBN 13: 9780452271326

Pagan Babies

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9780452271326: Pagan Babies
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From the fleeting optimism of Kennedy's Camelot to the fearsome specter of the age of AIDS, this impressive, powerfully-written debut novel follows the lives of two young people and their stormy relationship that parallels the moral confusion of America over the next 30 years.

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From Publishers Weekly:

This first novel by short-story writer Johnson ( A Friendly Deceit ) regrettably exhibits some of the classic flaws of a debut work: an episodic "and then . . . and then" style; telling more than showing (i.e., relentless over-explanation); lack of clear plot development; and an implausible ending. The two main characters, Janice Rungren and Clifford Bannon, meet as third-graders at the Catholic school within Sacred Heart parish in Vyler, a small Texas city, in the 1960s; Janice is the flirt, Clifford the brooding artiste. The accoutrements and environment of the Church are rendered as caricatures: stigmata, First Communion, even the "pagan babies" of the book's title--children of undeveloped countries visited by Maryknoll missionaries. Although these religious trappings and customs are amusing or fascinating at times, they're no substitute for a story line. Mental illness, death, personal tragedy, middle-class angst and '60s drug stupor all factor in the plot, though not to advantage. Jancie and Clifford move beyond friendship to intimacy before parting ways; preposterously, they wind up in Atlanta together as adults, she husband-hunting, he more openly gay. Assiduous editing could have rendered both the gay and heterosexual characters more believable. Even the dialogue rings hollow and contrived.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

They grow up together as Catholic misfits. They are soulmates and far-too-young lovers. But as the 1960s fade into the 1970s, Clifford Bannon's intensity takes him someplace Janice Rungren can't follow: into the fevered world of gay discos. Though they are almost lost to each other several times, Janice and Clifford's friendship survives, even when both fall in love with the same man. Pagan Babies sweeps through the sexual revolution and into the age of AIDS with all its powers of revelation intact. How the Catholic Church lingers on in the lives of ex-Catholics is also well depicted. An impressive, insightful first novel from Johnson, whose short story collections ( Distant Friends, LJ 11/1/90 and Friendly Deceit , Johns Hopkins Univ . Pr . , 1992) earned widespread critical acclaim.
- Keddy Ann Outlaw, Harris Cty. P.L., Houston
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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