TOWN HOUSE by Tish Cohen (HarperCollins), 274 pages, $17.95 paper. Rating: NNN
I just love the fact that a woman has written one of the best rock 'n' roll novels I've read.
Jack Madigan has issues. His father, rock superstar Baz Madigan, was a shitty parent who carted his baby son, the product of a groupie grope, with him on the road in a crate. Now Jack's a non-functioning, full-fledged agoraphobic divorcé and part-time father of a teenaged son.
Baz did one thing right before he died a drug and alcohol burn-out case he left his Beacon Hill mansion to Jack. But thanks to Baz's dwindling royalties and Jack's inability to make a living, the bank's foreclosed on the mortgage and Jack's close to losing the house. Enter Dorrie, the incompetent but sweet real estate agent. Lucille, the nine-year-old next door, who's wholly ignored by her parents, insinuates herself into Jack's life, and ex-wife Penelope, doesn't help things by planning to remarry.
Tish Cohen tells this story with terrific energy, and the characters are appealing. Dorrie's determined but a bit pathetic; we're not sure whether to cheer her on or will her to fail. Jack's vintage-happy son, Harlan, who's covered his ceiling in a lime-green shag carpeting, is hopelessly torn between wanting a normal teen existence and wanting to rescue Dad.
Cohen manages to make Jack's agoraphobia both appalling and hilarious. As a result, he's someone you want to shake and root for at the same time.
Town House may not be the literary event of the year, but it is very funny and even touching.