The eighty-three brief scenes in this short novel at first appear to symbolize protagonist Maria Wyeth’s anxious sense of being a displaced, discontinuous person. However, their interrupted continuity also comes to represent the failure of the film industry to comprehend her complexity and her needs. Maria’s husband, Carter, never gets beyond his first image of her as an East Coast model; it is this superficial image that he prefers in the films which he makes of her. He is equally narrow in his attitude toward their daughter, Kate, born disabled. Carter has her institutionalized and attempts to prevent Maria from visiting her.
The fact that Maria’s own mother died horribly, alone in the desert and attacked by coyotes, has reinforced her maternal feelings. She identifies with her rejected child; both are marginal, considered outside the “in group” of the “beautiful people.” Starved for simple assurances that she is really alive and lovable, Maria has an affair with scriptwriter Les Goodwin. When she becomes pregnant, Carter declares that she must either have an abortion or never again see Kate. The fact that Les is already married drastically limits Maria’s options. Forced to choose between her two children, both wholly helpless, Maria agrees to the abortion; as a result of her guilt, however, she suffers recurring nightmares, including those of children being led to gas chambers.
Helene, who has always played the part of her closest friend, can provide neither understanding nor consolation. Instead she offers a partnership in a...
(The entire section is 645 words.)