Cover image for Maybe I'll call Anna
Maybe I'll call Anna
Spencer, William Browning, 1946-
Publication Information:
Sag Harbor, N.Y. : Permanent Press, 1990.
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This strangely likeable suspense novel benefits from bouncy, uncluttered writing and an effectively subtle evocation of late 60's counter-culture life in a small North Carolina town. This is melodramatic material that's presented in a decidedly unmelodramatic tone. It's a crisp, engaging read. -- The Plain Dealer New American Writing Award

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

For David it's just another night working in the hospital ER when 18-year-old Anna is brought in after taking bad dope. While Anna is streetwise, the men in her life are attracted by her curious pull as "demon and waif": she has "a kind of brash, heavy-metal eroticism, the volume cranked up all the way." The time is the 1960s: David gets drafted, thrown in the stockade, then discharged, while Anna joins the local guru's commune. Then psychiatrist Richard Parrish enters Anna's life, though what Anna doesn't realize is that there are no lengths to which he won't go to protect himself. Spencer's tone is semicomical, the temperature rising as the reader confronts persistent questions: Did Anna's previous boyfriend OD or was he murdered? Is Anna crazy or on the borderline? Is David's obsession with Anna close to madness? Spencer's most powerful writing comes when he builds and deflates suspense around several diabolical attempted murders. --Danny Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Spencer's discerning first novel draws the reader into a whirlpool of mad romantic obsession that spans 20 years. Aspiring artist David Livingston, moonlighting as a hospital orderly, is immediately captivated by self-destructive Anna Shockley, whom he encounters in the emergency room where she has been taken after a typical 1960s drug overdose. He takes up residence in Anna's boarding house as a frustrated observer of her violent relationship with a drug-dealing boyfriend, and eventually becomes her lover. But Anna's grasp of reality is consistently shaky, and she sees psychiatrist Richard Parrish while David does a very brief stint in the Army. Her fatal femininity affects Parrish much as it did David, creating a triangular relationship whose drama comes to a head in 1986. The author's vigorous use of language and strong characterizations contribute to an intriguing story. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved