Books: Portnoy, Move Over

Allegra Goodman's breakthrough novel follows a flower child on her comic quest for enlightenment

Nothing in Allegra Goodman's previous fiction--two volumes of short stories and the highly praised novel Kaaterskill Falls (1998)--has quite prepared readers for the sustained comic exuberance of Paradise Park (Dial; 360 pages; $24.95). Her earlier work certainly wasn't grim, but it tended toward the polished and well mannered and resonant, a la 19th century British fiction. Not this time. Like Saul Bellow and Philip Roth before her, Goodman has achieved a breakthrough book by discovering and recording a thoroughly uninhibited narrative voice. Bellow found Augie March, and Roth hit upon Alexander Portnoy. Goodman gives the world Sharon Spiegelman.

The world might...

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