Hunters and Gatherers (1995) The trend toward New Ageism and political correctness is irresistible fodder for novelists of the sardonic type; for someone like Francine Prose, it's the equivalent… Fiction Sci-fi and Fantasy Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Book Review

Hunters and Gatherers (1995)

EW's GRADE
B+

Details Writer: Francine Prose; Genres: Fiction, Sci-fi and Fantasy; Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux

The trend toward New Ageism and political correctness is irresistible fodder for novelists of the sardonic type; for someone like Francine Prose, it's the equivalent of a gold mine. Thus her latest novel, Hunters and Gatherers, begins with Martha, a fashion-magazine fact checker recently dumped by her boyfriend, hanging out on the beach at Fire Island only to be co-opted by a group of ''Goddess worshippers'' when she rescues their leader, Isis Moonwagon, from drowning in the sea. Although Martha, who claims not to be passionate about anything, maintains a certain analytic distance from her new friends, she is also drawn to them and hovers on the fringes of their world, attending witches' ceremonies and assorted other mystical events. The plot fairly reeks of sarcasm — how else, after all, is one to take women who have renamed themselves Titania, Hegwitha, and Freya? But Martha can't decide whether or not to take her new friends seriously, which means that neither can the reader. In the end, the ore that Prose has found seems less a precious metal than pyrite. B+

Originally posted Aug 11, 1995 Published in issue #287 Aug 11, 1995 Order article reprints