Jennifer Spiegel (Author)
September 04, 2012
5.56 X 8.23 X 0.89 inches | 0.8 pounds
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About the Author
Jennifer Spiegel teaches creative writing at Arizona State University. Her story collection, The Freak Chronicles, is forthcoming in June 2012 from Dzanc Books. Love Slave is her debut novel. Having received her MA from NYU, she lives with her husband and two kids in Arizona.
Set in the motels, highways and restaurants of New Mexico, Alpert's first novel is an elegant and witty, if modest, peek into the lives of a handful of characters in the American Southwest. Successfully sidestepping the cliches of the road novel, Alpert introduces her cast of fully dimensional characters with strong, selective strokes. At 26, Marilee Levitay (whose French-punning name is one of the author's few breaches of subtlety) is crossing the desert in her Dodge Dart to marry her high-school sweetheart, Larry. In the shadows of both the White Sands Missile Range and her own anxieties about life, Marilee meets a hitchhiking dwarf named Enoch. The unfolding of their uncannily erotic relationship is the heart of the novel, but Alpert gracefully weaves in the destinies of her secondary characters?an insurance salesman in hiding, a buck-toothed checkout girl, a landlady tamale chef. Comprised of conversations and chance meetings, the story is fundamentally subdued and rarely surprising; there is never much tension about whether Marilee will marry the fraud Larry. However, Alpert's imagery?melons on a car seat, a stunted boy digging in the dirt with a spoon?is inventive and often beautiful. Wry dialogue and a lean sense of humor give life to this novel about the awkward comedy of overcoming loneliness. - Publishers Weekly Marilee journeys from Los Angeles to New Mexico to surprise her fiance, Larry, who has taken a job on the Alamogordo Air Force Base to gain, in one of his antithetical Zen experiments, an understanding of peace. Sympathy for Enoch, a hitchhiking dwarf, disrupts her orderly plans. Enoch's free spirit, quirky humor, and inquisitive mind contrast vividly with Larry's controlling ways. In a separate voyage, Figman, an insurance claims adjuster on the run, relocates to New Mexico after surviving a lethal car crash that results in an unfair lawsuit against him. Now prone to migraines and the conviction that he is dying, Figman embarks on new adventures. Late in the novel, these two distinct love stories converge on a highway in near collision. This is a curious, fun, intriguing, and recommended first novel. - Library Journal