Lauren Kelly is one pseudonym of Joyce Carol Oates, a recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. Oates's most recent novel, The Falls, was a New York Times Notable Book, a Washington Post Best Book of 2004, and a Chicago Tribune Top Ten Book of 2004. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978. In 2003 she was a recipient of the Commonwealth Award for Distinguished Service in Literature. In 2005 she was awarded France's Prix Femina for The Falls.
Kelly (Take Me, Take Me with You), a pseudonymous "best-selling and award-winning author," serves up a studiously stylized novel about sex, abuse and grief that's oddly compelling while also being overwrought and exasperatingly repetitive. Narrated by Merilee Graf, the 26-year-old only child of a successful importer of exotic goods in Mount Olive, N.Y., the story flashes back and forth between Merilee's hazy recollections of the past (when she was 10, her "colored" fifth-grade classmate Lilac Jimson vanished) and the present (Merilee returns home to attend to her dying father). Lilac's disappearance disturbs Merilee anew when she bumps into Lilac's older brother, Roosevelt, in the hospital; Roosevelt had been the recipient of a Police Academy scholarship donated by Merilee's father as well as a brief high school obsession of Merilee's. Later, after her father's death, Merilee is hysterical about the loss of a glass heart she'd given him, but entranced by her mysterious Uncle Jedah, her father's right-hand man and now the executor of the estate she's inherited. Readers know some dark and terrible secret connecting Lilac's disappearance and Merilee's father or uncle will be uncovered, but Merilee's such an ineffectual person it's hard to imagine she'll figure out what she needs to in time. Bottom line: overheated and creepy. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.