At the Sign of the Naked Waiter (Contemporary American Fiction)

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9780140231892: At the Sign of the Naked Waiter (Contemporary American Fiction)

Combining a gift for language, an exuberant sense of humor, and a boundless imagination, Herrick's coming-of-age novel is unlike any other. Navigating the mysterious path from childhood to adulthood, Sarah encounters a naked, winged man, rivalrous ghosts, and gods disguised as beggars.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

Herrick's oh-so-mannered debut novel features a heroine who witnesses the occasional supernatural manifestation while pondering the meaning of life on earth. Each chapter catches Sarah in another significant passage from adolescence to adulthood. Sarah's world is usually filled with flowering trees, golden light, and a propensity for unexpected encounters with naked men- -one of whom has wings. The other constants are her brother Fred (a scientific genius seeking entry to parallel universes who gives her a frog he's created after discovering the secret of life) and best- friend-since-grade-school Robin (whose apparent schizophrenia is a bit of a problem but generally sweet and goofy and one of those things you accept in an old friend). The smug preciosity of the young-love chapters gives way as Sarah moves out in the world: she works as a public defender in the urban jungle, while the mysterious Black Feather takes society's revenge on people lacking in civility; she manages to maintain her somewhat fey outlook in the face of marriage, motherhood, Robin's deterioration, and Fred's death (apparently from AIDS). The self-consciously Victorian diction and imagery are perhaps meant to convey the sense that Sarah is an Alice whose Wonderland is the ordinary world of growing up: people respond ``crossly,'' sponges from outer space smell ``actually very lovely,'' and clouds resemble ``dirigibles dressed in white tea cozies.'' Individual chapters of genuine charm and humane appeal just manage to stand out amid much cloying whimsy. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

This novel portrays the ebb and flow of the imaginary and real worlds in the life of a contemporary woman named Sarah. In a series of nine chapters, we witness Sarah's initiation into the new and often unmerciful world of adolescence, early adulthood, and motherhood. A handful of truly unique characters and unexpected experiences, wild and magical, draws Sarah to a final acceptance of her own personal world, a world sometimes humorous and at other times genuinely hearbreaking but in its depiction always real. A quick-paced first novel that intermingles the imaginary and real worlds in an unobtrusive yet fervent style. Several chapters have appeared in literary journals. The first chapter has been selected for O. Henry Prize Stories, 1992 . Recommended for all libraries.
- David A. Berona, Westbrook Coll. Lib., Portland, Me.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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