Picks and Pans Review: As Soon as It Rains

updated 03/17/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/17/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Kaylie Jones

The author of this erratic first novel is the 25-year-old daughter of the late James Jones, who wrote From Here to Eternity. Her heroine is Chloe Raymond, who lives on Long Island and talks dirty all the time. She is about to go off to college when her father, a famous playwright, dies. This book is mostly about sex, serious drinking and sniffing coke—in that order. There are also bits about schoolwork and abortions, a year in France and a rotten mother. The sex objects are young men, each described in loving detail: "He had bone structure that befitted a Michelangelo." Given Chloe's devotion to such extracurricular obsessions, it comes as some surprise at the end to find that she is graduating Phi Beta Kappa from a college (called Cromwell) that sounds much like Harvard. There are also some loose ends: Chloe's friend, the coke dealer, may or may not have been stabbed to death in New York on the eve of graduation. And Chloe may go on to become a great actress, since she finally figures out that the only reason she hasn't become a hit so far is that she feels guilty about her father's death. Jones's writing is full of energy, and she keeps her cast of unhappy students moving right along. Her characters, however, are young and much too self-absorbed to be very interesting. If this is a true picture of life and the students at American colleges today, it's a miracle anyone ever survives to graduate. (Double-day, $16.95)

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