by Kim Wozencraft
This amateurish, overwritten novel by the author of the 1990 bestseller Rush (on which the movie was based) explores a topical subject: the psychological and legal ramifications of battered wives who murder their assailants. Set in a Fort Worth psychiatric prison, Notes from the Country Club is the first-person account of a battered wife, Cynthia Mitchell, who struck back. In laborious, almost indecipherable prose, Cynthia unfolds the layers of her life and crime over a four-month stay, while she waits to stand trial. The last few chapters cover the trial and its (unsurprising) outcome.
Wozencraft, the former narcotics cop turned addict who spent 18 months in a federal correction facility before pursuing a successful career as a novelist—screen rights to this book have been picked up by Demi Moore—is at her best when describing the small details of prison life: the inmates’ strange nicknames, the lounge’s orange-vinyl couches “that can only be described as bastardized Danish modern,” the competitive camaraderie—the women organize an aerobics class and give each other facials—that develops among prisoners. It is too bad that any gift for plot or insight had already been given parole. (Houghton Mifflin, $19.95)