Picks and Pans Review: The Male Cross-Dresser Support Group
Janowitz is like one of those mercy friends you meet twice a year for a movie and a cup of coffee afterward. They natter on, telling the most unbelievable stories, and you can't figure out why you keep seeing them, except that they amused you the first time you met, and they keep calling.
When Janowitz's stories of the young and the relentlessly hip began appearing in The New Yorker in 1985, they were fresh, florid but amusing. But Cross-Dresser, her third novel, is self-indulgent, sloppy and plain boring.
It presents the unappetizing tale of Pamela Trowell, a single woman in Manhattan who, while looking for sex in all the wrong places, including bars, public lavatories and coffee shops, finds love—albeit mother love—when she takes in a young homeless child. He is kidnapped late in the novel, and Pamela disguises herself as a man—don't ask—to find him. Janowitz actually scores a mild satirical point or two as the trouser-wearing Pamela is sought after socially by women who had paid her no never mind while she was still in skirts.
As for her prose, it seems no one has ever clued Janowitz that sometimes too much is too much. Consider this bit after Pamela has strategically kicked an overamorous cabbie: "His testicles...must have scampered and screamed in silent, hurt despair! Exactly like rotten figs, left for too long in a plastic carton at the store and covered with demure fruit flies." Janowitz goes on like this for pages—hut you don't have to. (Crown, $20)