Picks and Pans Review: Small World

UPDATED 06/01/1981 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 06/01/1981 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Tabitha King

Midway through this appealingly diabolical first novel, there is an oblique reference to the horror classic The Shining, written by the author's husband, Stephen. Having noted this connection, the reader should disregard it. For Tabitha clearly has her own style, vivid imagination and pleasantly bitchy turn of phrase. Her story concerns a mad scientist who invents a device that can miniaturize anything (furniture, food, people). Like her husband, King goes on disconcerting simile binges. On one page, a woman puffs a cigarette "as if she were a stoker in hell," someone else feels "like a much-handled grapefruit in a market," and "silence settled like a hundred years." The Incredible Shrinking Woman gimmick wears a bit thin. But King's fascinating folk—suave museum directors, a President's daughters and eccentric artists—maintain interest. (Macmillan, $10.95)

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