By EW Staff
Updated August 21, 1992 at 04:00 AM EDT

In his new novel, Craig Nova (Tornado Alley, The Congressman’s Daughter) brings Oedipus to the tinder-dry suburbs of Southern California. Dean Gollancz—a Bakersfield printer who moonlights as an arsonist—smothers his brainy son, Ray, with a self-indulgent cynicism masquerading as affection. Nova’s prose captures shadings of desert light and the vitriol of patricidal fervor with equal dexterity. But Trombone doesn’t get beyond the cliches of minimalist fiction, and this all-too-familiar tale of dead-end America, of that ”claustrophobia that came from the lack of possibilities and the certainty of being trapped,” is unable to draw much meaning from its characters’ humdrum lives.