April 15, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT

Now You See Her

Current Status
In Season
Whitney Otto
We gave it a B

Whitney Otto’s weighty allegory in Now You See Her nearly crushes her novel’s wonderful premise. As Kiki Shaw approaches 40, she begins to disappear-literally-and it’s a mixed blessing. If she wants her feet to be solid, she has to stamp them; but when she trips over the cat, it doesn’t howl. Yet Kiki (and readers) almost suffocate under Otto’s heavy messages of how aging women become unimportant to society; Otto drags down her fine whimsy with statements like ”she does not necessarily desire the phantom woman as much as she does the sensation of desperate love.” Still, many scenes are enchanting, such as when Kiki learns to be noticeable again by watching how an unflappable, feminine ghost gets a waiter’s attention in a cafe. As long as Otto communicates significance subtly rather than with a fist, the result is astonishing and lovely. B

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