Alice in Bed (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
Cathleen Schine, whose writing has appeared in The New Yorker and the Village Voice, makes her debut as a novelist with a very readable book that dances past the quagmires lurking in her subject and sails lightly over the usual tones and topics of first novels. Indeed, in defining Schine’s achievement, it is easier to talk about what Alice in Bed is not than what it is. It is not grim and depressing, nor is it brave and inspirational. It has little suspense in the ordinary sense of the word, no moments of significant crisis and climax, no startling incidents pulled out of the novelist’s bag of tricks. There is hardly any action—after all, the central character is immobile in bed for most of the novel. There are no extended flashbacks or highly significant dreams that reveal the development of her character or clarify the meaning of her life. Schine has not written a novel with a message, though one might (at the cost of misrepresenting the book’s spirit) write about her skill in making readers aware of topics that could be rendered in jargon, such as the sexuality of the disabled, medical incompetence, and the dehumanization of patients in the service of advanced technology.
Furthermore, although the central character is a woman of nineteen, the novel is not about typical adolescent angst or coming of age. It does not yield any deep meanings or metaphors for contemporary life. Despite its abundant wit and sometimes...
(The entire section is 1567 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
Antioch Review. XLI, Fall, 1983, p. 509.
Library Journal. CVIII, May 1, 1983, p. 921.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. June 1, 1983, p. 8.
Ms. XII, July, 1983, p. 22.
The New Yorker. LIX, August 1, 1983, p. 87.
Newsweek. CI, June 13, 1983, p. 74.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXIII, March 18, 1983, p. 53.
(The entire section is 36 words.)