Picks and Pans Review: Gerald's Party

updated 01/27/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/27/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Robert Coover

It's impossible to figure out how many people Gerald and his wife have invited to their party. The guests wander through the house, drinking, eating and saying senseless things. Then Ros is stabbed—blood gets all over several people—and her husband, Roger, who is wildly jealous and distraught, is beaten to death with croquet mallets. The police do unspeakable things to Ros's corpse, and up in the bathroom, Gerald, who has been flirting all evening with Alison, is helping other guests, Tania and Naomi, get cleaned up. Gerald's son Mark comes in with Gerald's mother-in-law, who doesn't approve of any of this. Tania's husband, Howard, "writing on a painter he disliked, had called his work 'bedroom art,' meaning too private and self-indulgent." This novel is indeed bedroom—and bathroom—art, and very few readers are going to be willing to put up with it. It is funny at moments. The sex scenes are explicit, vivid, detailed and weird. But Coover, author of The Universal Baseball Association, The Public Burning and Spanking the Maid, gives very little in the way of entertainment or enlightening observation. The original, wild flights of fancy for which Coover is noted are far too rare this time. (Linden Press, $17.95)

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