Going Native

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

GOING NATIVE opens with a view of upper-middle-class suburbia as a woman prepares dinner for her husband, Wylie, and two neighbors. After dinner Wylie wanders into the house and out of his family’s life for no discernable reason. The novel’s successive seven chapters trace a trek west from Chicago and introduce a collection of misfits and characters on the fringes of American life.

A few blocks away a pair of crack heads get high and fight until their wrangling is capped off by the theft of their 1969, green Ford Galaxie, a car that will figure in nearly every other episode. In Nebraska, a hitchhiker kills a truck driver because he is annoyed with the driver’s music and is himself terrified when another driver in a green Galaxie confesses that he is motoring in a stolen car. A motel operator in Cool Creek, Colorado, ponders his forever unfinished screenplay while his wife carries on with lovers and his daughter runs off in a Galaxie with her heavy-metal, Satanist boyfriend. A small-time cinematographer in Denver sells videotapes of lovers he voyeuristically captures to a porno film director and is himself killed when one of his subjects discovers him.

The scene shifts to Las Vegas where a young mother of two, in flight from an abusive husband, lives with her lesbian lover and works at the Happy Chapel. All is harmonious until a man and woman arrive to inspect rings and be married and walk off with some of the jewelry, inducing the first...

(The entire section is 411 words.)