Picks and Pans Review: Dr.rocksinger and the Age of Longing

UPDATED 08/30/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 08/30/1982 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Jill Robinson

Robinson, whose Bed'/Time/Story was an admirable memoir about growing up in Hollywood, has some annoying quirks as a novelist: a tendency toward hyperprecocious young characters, sledgehammer symbolism and fixation with show business. Those traits surfaced in her previous hit novel, Perdido, but it was still entertaining. So is this book about a 40ish New York radio talk show hostess. Her third husband has just left her to cope with two teenage children—a son into dope and a daughter into dropping out—and a need for male companionship that very soon (page 6) leads her to a younger man, an aspiring rock 'n' roll singer. When she meets him on a suburban road, she offers him an apple, drawing an unfortunate analogy between the Garden of Eden and Connecticut. And her family conversations are like sitcom gags. When she asks her kids about themselves, the daughter snaps, "What is this? Trying out for Face the Nation?" The son adds, "No, she's practicing effective parenting." Robinson does have a nice way with an observation, though. (Seeing a hint of herself in her young lover, the heroine thinks, is "as unsettling as seeing your own expression on someone else's face.") And the woman's introduction into the milieu of rock 'n' roll in a frenetic outdoor concert is vividly, passionately described. The novel is, in fact, like a good rock 'n' roll song; it has the literary equivalent of hooks, qualities that keep up interest long after it's clear nothing profound is going on. (Knopf, $13.95)

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