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Fiction

IN BRIEF

September 08, 1996|Susan Salter Reynolds

THE FROG by John Hawkes (Viking: $21.95, 191 pp.). A scary little novel, this, the way Grimm's Fairy Tales and "The Wizard of Oz" and even "James and the Giant Peach" are scary. "The Frog" is a fable in which the narrator's perversions roil beneath the memories of his childhood. In the smarmy tone of a too-friendly stranger, John Hawkes describes how, at age 2, he swallowed a frog named Armand who made him do all kinds of things and became the pearl that deformed the oyster of his character.

"If I had my way," writes the man who swallowed the frog, "there would be no fathers in this world of ours, but only sons." In fact, the Oedipal trauma at the heart of this novel seems mild (even though it ends in murder) when compared to the child's independently horrifying obsession with his mother. As for the frog, well, he seems entirely plausible.

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