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IN BRIEF

Fiction

March 15, 1992|CHRIS GOODRICH

SURVIVING THE WRECK by Susan Osborn (Henry Holt/John Macrae: $19.95; 226 pp.). The wreck referred to in the title of this first novel is the family boat--a metaphorical vessel, one presided over by an alcoholic advertising executive who sometimes insists on being referred to as "Captain." The Arbuthnot family seems successful, with daughter Megan madly in love with her father and son Kyle everything a mother could want, but appearances, of course, deceive; the children's conduct is pathological, compensation for a home life filled with anger, bitterness, envy. Megan, now in her 30s, is the narrator of "Surviving the Wreck," and her story is an attempt to understand how she became the victim of her father's manipulation and her mother's jealousy. The reader won't learn anything new about family dynamics here, but Osborn is a good, thoughtful writer who keeps the narrative moving and even manages to make thoroughly unpleasant figures sympathetic.

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