Troy Patterson
July 12, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Fierce People

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
Limited Release Date
09/14/07
performer
Diane Lane, Donald Sutherland, Chris Evans
director
Griffin Dunne
author
Dirk Wittenborn
genre
Drama

We gave it a C-

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FIERCE PEOPLE Dirk Wittenborn (Bloomsbury, $24.95) In 1978, 15-year-old Finn Earl and his flaky mom ditch a messy life in Manhattan and, relying on the kindness of a zillionaire, decamp for New Jersey’s fox-hunting country. Finn is a slacker but also a ”budding young anthropologist.” As he befriends larval WASPs and does what teenage heroes will do with debutantes, he reports on the natives in the offhand tones of Caulfield-ese, and for the first 150 pages or so, Wittenborn’s novel makes for an attractively trashy coming-of-age story. Thereafter, the book develops into a convoluted penny dreadful — less a portrait of an adolescent mind than the product of one. At the climax, the villain asks the hero: ”Don’t you want to know why I did it?” If this is anthropology, then so is Dynasty.

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