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IN BRIEF

Fiction

February 07, 1993|KAREN STABINER

FAMILY NIGHT by Maria Flook. (Pantheon Books: $20; 296 pp.) These are probably not the family values everyone has been talking about of late. Margaret is divorced, as is her stepbrother Cam. Her boyfriend Tracy is a threatening emotional mess, who convinces Cam that the three of them ought to leave life behind and set off in search of Cam's father, known to his son only from old Arrow shirt advertisements. So they "borrow" Cam's ex-wife's car and head off. The publicity blurb for this book talks about "fatal attractions, basic instincts," clearly hoping that a little bit of Hollywood will rub off and give this novel a borrowed glow, but "Family Night" is both tougher to take and more interesting than those big-screen stories of misplaced lust. Flook is a mannered writer, sometimes difficult to take (does anyone really talk like this?), but there is an insistent drive to her story that is hard to resist. Margaret knows that Tracy is no good for her, but it takes her the novel's length to act on her information; the reader may find fault with Flook's tense style, but ends up on the last page, haunted by the characters, regardless.

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