Picks and Pans Review: Paradise Park
Sharon Spiegelman, the narrator of this disappointing novel, spends the 1970s and '80s wandering the Hawaiian islands, dabbling in spiritual movements, drugs and sexual adventures. Sounds pretty juicy, no? Unfortunately, her 20 years of aimlessness stretch across the similarly meandering first two-thirds of the book, pages written with all the depth of a "What I Did on My Summer Vacation" essay. And Sharon, who acts like a petulant teen into her 30s, issues wisecracks that sound as though they were garbled in translation from another language: "Maybe some people think they're buffalo, but when it comes down to it, they don't actually roam." Ouch.
Goodman, author of the National Book Award finalist Kaaterskill Falls, finally finds her way when Sharon converts to orthodox Judaism late in the novel. But too late: The book then abruptly ends—which feels like both a letdown and a godsend. (Dial Press, $24.95)
Bottom Line: A long way from paradise