ALMA MATER by Rita May Brown (Ballantine ), 260 pages, $36 cloth. Rating: NN
Oh, I give up. I don't know why I keep fantasizing that Rita Mae Brown is going to show a glimmer of the spark she had when she penned Rubyfruit Jungle. She hasn't written a line worth reading since that edgy and energetic first novel -- even when she was plundering her own gossip-worthy life with Martina Navratilova -- and Alma Mater doesn't change the pattern. Vic is a senior at William and Mary in Virginia and everyone assumes she's going to marry football star Charly. But then she falls for pretty-girl Chris and doesn't know what to do. So she does the math, sets up a threesome and, oops, there are consequences and much southern discomfort, but alas, zero insight. I promise I'll never do it again.