Picks and Pans Review: Bodies Electric
Ever since his pregnant wife was shot dead in a random moment of New York City street violence, Jack Whitman has buried himself in his $395,000-a-year job as an executive with a giant multimedia entertainment corporation. One night on the subway, Whitman (a distant relation of the poet Walt, hence the title) finds himself sitting across from a beautiful but exhausted-looking Hispanic woman and her young child. He guesses she is homeless and, drawn to her, proffers his business card and tells her to call him if she needs a job.
Good start. What follows, though, is an ambitious but increasingly messy attempt to parallel Whitman's growing involvement with the woman, a sort of domestic merger of opposing cultures, with his role in the merger between his company and its German counterpart. In this, Harrison's second novel, the characters seem contrived and, as the chairman of Whitman's corporation says in another context, "you can't jam together two things that were never meant for one another." (Crown, $20)