Sunday, August 1, 2010

Burning by Diane Johnson

A seemingly sane couple is unbalanced by their swinging neighbors the day before Bel Air burns down.

I laughed aloud several times while reading this novel, which felt very much like a relic of the Sixties. It’s about Bingo and her doctor husband Barney. After the fire department requires them to cut down a hedge, they are suddenly sucked into the communal life of the very eccentric psychiatrist next door and his cast of eccentric patients, specifically the heroine addicted Maxine. Bingo and Maxine switch places one day as Maxine’s children are about to be confiscated by the State of California. The story moves quickly along as Bingo and Barney accept whatever crazy thing their neighbors are doling out. Bingo thinks about morality and life. This is not a frivolous book. At the end, a wildfire threatens to wipe away their neighborhood, but they all survive to love some more.

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