Fiction Kate Sterns Thinking About Magritte

ISBN 13: 9780679412076

Thinking About Magritte

3.41 avg rating
( 17 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780679412076: Thinking About Magritte

Living alone and entertained by the walls of his apartment, which tell his stories of his childhood, thirty-year-old orphan Midnight Cowboy searches for his mother and finds an eccentric cast of characters.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A first novel about a group of down-and-out but magically- realistic characters: partly a surreal rendition of Winesburg, Ohio and partly a novelty item that never quite finds its rhythm, despite several powerful or effectively quirky moments. ``Members of Limestone's city council were faced with the daily embarrassment of having to step over drunks and homeless children on their way to work.'' Sterns juxtaposes such capsule sketches of her fictional city's history, architecture, and so forth with the continuing stories of Midnight Cowboy, Frank, Savage, Gonzino Bay, Maxine, Preacher, and a number of other such characters. There is not a story as such but, instead, variations on situations. Midnight Cowboy, for instance, with water on his brain, is 30 years old. Alone, he listens to the walls of his apartment (``The ghosts of Cowboy's childhood lodged amid the cracks in the plaster'') and searches for Lily, his mother, long dead. That doesn't matter, though, because angels and ghosts are as likely to show up in these pages as real people, and that sense of anything-can-happen improvisation finally wears a little thin. Frank is a perpetual outpatient of the Limestone Psychiatric Hospital who often claims he's pregnant: ``He was feeling the baby move inside of him. He was thinking of names.'' The narrative reaches a kind of pathos with Midnight Cowboy, crippled and helpless, frequently the victim of abuse; and it stretches toward fabulism when Gonzino Bay, an aging acrobat, navigates city roofs: ``Even sleepwalking he preferred the spaces where angels dangled their toes.'' Often, though, the novel hovers between styles and thus lacks the delicate facility of, say, a Carol Shields. Even so, Sterns takes hold of a marvelous idea and, despite her uneven execution, marks herself as an interesting and talented voice willing to try something new. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

The reader dips into a pool of brightly tinted cartoon images in these 20 dadaist sketches, randomly juxtaposed to reflect the charmingly infantile mind of the hydrocephalic Midnight Cowboy, 30. He lives in Limestone (the epigraph cites a poem by W. H. Auden explaining the name: "this land is not the sweet home that it looks"), where the interchangeability of prisons, hospitals, a mental asylum and a university deepens his sense that he is jailed in an addled head. Midnight Cowboy's dead mother was a beautician; his fantasies bring her back to life and enable him to re-enter her body through a slit in her skin. The tale's flat, capricious characters are like toys in an aging child's nursery: Frank, a 54-year-old pregnant man; teenage Maxine, who intrigues Midnight Cowboy with her "black hair lazy as a cat cross her shoulders." Other figures seem to rise from Midnight Cowboy's watery brain: Old River, who kept a pet snake when his name was Adam Whitelake; the acrobatic Gonzino Bay; and even Maxine, who grows a fish tail. The narrative advances with zany logic: characters playfully pelt one another with vivid non sequiturs. But there is little behind the author's whimsy and poetic language to sustain interest.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Kate Sterns
Published by Pantheon (1992)
ISBN 10: 0679412077 ISBN 13: 9780679412076
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Kate Sterns
Published by Pantheon (1992)
ISBN 10: 0679412077 ISBN 13: 9780679412076
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