A Woman Named Drown (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
A reader finishing A Woman Named Drown will not, if asked for one, be able to supply a name for the story’s narrator beyond the first-person pronoun. Searching will produce an incongruous nickname, “new girl” (the narrator is male), and a reference to “Al,” a name the narrator tells a black boxer he can call him. The boxer is enigmatic about his own handle, pronouncing his name Egret but signing it, “with painstaking concentration,” Willie Ebert. The narrator calls his girlfriend Miss Dr. Eminence in Love with Polanski, to summarize her initial hopes for his career and her subsequent dropping of him for someone else. The originator of the nickname “new girl” is known as Sweetlips; his companion is Roach. Other minor characters are the Orphan, the Veteran, the Pacifist, Tush-hog, and a dart-throwing lady named Wallace.
The names of people preoccupy the narrator of A Woman Named Drown, just as they did the narrator of Padgett Powell’s much-praised first novel, Edisto (1984). In that book, a chapter titled “How He Got His Name” details the christening of a stranger who becomes the hero’s father-figure. He is named Taurus, and takes over for the narrator’s real father, “the Progenitor.” The adolescent narrating Edisto is Simons Everson Manigault, but “you say it ’Simmons.’ I’m a rare one-m Simons.” In this strange, name-sensitive world, introductions are assayed and identity is a grade of...
(The entire section is 2147 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1988)
Booklist. LXXXIII, April 15, 1987, p. 1250.
Chicago Tribune. May 10, 1987, p. 5.
Kirkus Reviews. LV, March 1, 1987, p. 333.
Library Journal. CXII, May 1, 1987, p. 84.
The New York Times Book Review. XCII, June 7, 1987, p. 9.
People Weekly. XXVII, June 15, 1987, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly. CCXXXI, March 6, 1987, p. 104.
Time. CXXIX, May 18, 1987, p. 79.
The Washington Post Book World. XVII, May 27, 1987, p. D2.
(The entire section is 50 words.)