A Sign of the Eighties

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Shelly Silver is thirty-five and single. Having successfully launched her own catering business, she is beginning to regret the anti-marriage stance she adopted in the 1960’s. Mickey Burke, the object of Shelly’s matrimonial desires, develops successful situation comedies for television but yearns for a serious career in films. Then Astra Rainbow enters their lives. Rainbow, the love child of a flower child, is Mickey’s new secretary. Fresh from business school in Ohio, she is burdened by a guilty secret and a desire to be as normal as her mother was not. Although Mickey is obsessed with Rainbow, his desire is not carnal. He wants to steal her life to write a great American film.

Parent is a genuinely comic author whose talents have improved with each novel. She has the knack of creating hilarious scenes such as the one in which Shelly and her friend Greta try to meet eligible men by advertising a Mercedes for sale at such a ridiculously low price that hundreds of men line up in front of their door. Yet Parent does not ridicule her characters. Mickey, Shelly, and Rainbow are all lovable, if somewhat confused, people who are dealing with three decades of shifting social values. The charming way in which this unusual menage-a-trois find happiness is a uniquely 1980’s solution to age-old problems. This is contemporary humor at its best--witty, on-target, and humane.