Collaborators (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Janet Kauffman’s first novel is, on the surface, an intensely personal story set in a curious backwater of American society. Because Kauffman writes with a poet’s economy and evocative skill, however, Collaborators also serves, in the manner of a myth or fairy tale, to encode a fantasy with much broader resonance. The subconscious material here given conscious expression involves union, incomplete separation, and reabsorption: the process through which mothers are re-created in and by their daughters.
The book’s first half conjures up a close, earthbound relationship between the child Andrea Doria—always called Dovie—and her mother (who, like most children’s mothers, has no name except Mother). The child’s view of her mother is a compound of awe, admiration, mystery, and desire; if she is at times almost overwhelmed by her mother’s omnipotence, that omnipotence is wholly necessary to her security. Because the story is transmitted through the child’s visual and sensual memory, Andrea Doria’s father and brother scarcely seem to exist—as in the narcissistic world of childhood only the self is important. She is enmeshed with her mother, her shadow, her apprentice, ultimately her collaborator.
The chapters are short, like the fragments of memory that remain from childhood—intensely vivid but with little sense of context or connection. The narrative voice, though clearly that of Andrea Doria as an adult, does not...
(The entire section is 1788 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1987)
Chicago Tribune. March 9, 1986, XIV, p. 39.
Kirkus Reviews. LIV, February 1, 1986, p. 156.
Library Journal. CXI, May 15, 1986, p. 78.
Los Angeles Times Book Review. May 11, 1986, p. 1.
Ms. XIV, April, 1986, p. 83.
The New Republic. CXCIV, April 21, 1986, p. 34.
The New York Times Book Review. XCI, April 20, 1986, p. 17.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXIX, January 17, 1986, p. 61.
The Village Voice. XXXI, April 29, 1986, p. 50.
(The entire section is 52 words.)