Cover image for Licorice
Frucht, Abby.
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Publication Information:
St. Paul, Minn. : Graywolf Press, 1990.
Physical Description:
210 pages ; 24 cm
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An exquisitely written novel about the delicate balance between loss and desire, abandonment and renewal, and the fragility of relationships.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Frucht's description of summer also describes her novel: "Still the summer goes on, in its strange, slow, spellbound way." Licorice is moody, mysterious, and sensual, saturated with dread and longing. It tells the tale of a summer in an unnamed midwestern town that is silently and steadily losing its population. People just disappear, especially women. Liz, the narrator, is frightened and fascinated by this creepy exodus. She delivers mail, takes long walks, and is a sort of witness to things, including her own puzzling desires. People are occupied with curious activities: making lingerie out of old wedding dresses, re-creating the execrable soup remembered from a concentration camp, spying. Liz seems to be slipping off into never-never land, but is rescued by her loving, life-giving husband. A haunting and exotic work about love and loss, "the wedding of fragility and strength." ~--Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Frucht ( Snap ; Iowa Short Fiction Award-winner Fruit of the Month ) creates a gently erotic view of the human and natural worlds in this elegant, surreal second novel. Two forces are evident in the lives of her characters: the yearning for union through love and the drifting apart through indifference. Temporary letter carrier (``TLC'') Liz connects people by delivering mail. Her scientist husband, Daniel, communes with plants and hand-pollinates them, ``playing matchmaker on our fruit trees.'' A dog leaps on Liz as if it ``fell in love'' with her. Liz's friends hunger for men, or boldly act out their needs. Liz herself fantasizes an affair with ``Cro-Magnon man'' Joe, a loner who lives in an abandoned greenhouse. But one steamy summer, during which their baby, Stevie, learns to walk, their small town disintegrates. People mysteriously leave; Liz's friends desert their baffled husbands and lovers. Streets disappear; library and phone systems close down. Though warned that her craving may deprive her body of needed substances, Liz devours curative licorice till her kisses grow smoky on Daniel's skin. Frucht is by turns playful and pensive, fanciful and realistic. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Following up two well-received books, this novel deals with the fragility of marriage, friendship, and other relationships within the framework of the lives of temporary letter carrier Liz, her scientist husband Daniel, and their child Stevie--residents of a Midwestern town mysteriously losing its population. The loosely woven plot, which evolves as sluggishly as the weather, concerns Liz's rootless friends, who drift languorously through life. Liz, addicted to licorice, observes the insecurity, emptiness, and depression surrounding her, eventually reappraising her own situation. The best quality of Licorice is its prose: sensual, surrealistic, and sensitive.-- Ellen R. Cohen, Rockville, Md. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.