Picks and Pans Review: Prized Possessions
Although the actual words don't appear on its jacket, this book has "soon to be a major motion picture" written all over it. Corman. author of the novel on which the film Kramer vs. Kramer was based, has done it again: chosen an earnest, important topic—this time date rape—created accessible, if bland, characters and written a predictable story in a simple style.
Elizabeth Mason is the New York-bred daughter of affluent parents who made sure their little girl had the best: private schools, vocal lessons, the right summer camps. Her first week as a college freshman. Elizabeth—bright, beautiful but naive—meets Jimmy Andrews, a senior and a Big Man on Campus. They go on a date, drink a few beers, neck a little—and Jimmy rapes her.
The experience is shattering. Elizabeth becomes a recluse, telling her story to no one. Eventually, however, she presses charges against Jimmy. Most of the novel is devoted to the difficulties of winning such a case, the ostracism Liz experiences on campus, the tensions the rape causes between her parents. Along the way, the Masons ruminate on such issues as whether the affluence they've fought so hard for is somehow responsible for Elizabeth's predicament.
Given that this isn't a particularly imaginative story line. Corman does devise a few rich scenes, such as the descriptions of the antirape rally Elizabeth organizes at Lay-ton College. But just about everything else is standard issue: Elizabeth's father's fury and nervous breakdown: the depiction of Jimmy's parents as ineffectual WASPs who worry more about what their country club friends think than about whether their son has a problem: even the local cops who are skeptical about Liz's claims because they resent rich, privileged college "brats." There's little new here, but it almost doesn't matter. Corman's got a Big Subject and Big Subjects often succeed on their own. Like a mediocre screenplay, this book moves glibly, stays on the surface and makes a point. It's as if Corman's counting on a strong cast to make up for the weak material. (Simon and Schuster. $19.95)