book cover of Spinners
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Delia Chapman, the heroine of Anthony McCarten's extraterrestrial black comedy, Spinners, is 16 years old and pregnant--quite possibly by (she says) alien beings who "took her on their vessel. They had silver suits and stainless-steel boots. The vessel was ultra-modern and entirely impressive." The first person Delia tells her story to is the local policeman who finds her wandering on the highway outside the small New Zealand town of Opunake. As the story spreads, theories abound as to why she would make up such a thing. One explanation holds that her job at Borthwick's Freezing Works had unhinged her since "it was known that 80 percent of the town's female population were being taxed to the point of near nervous collapse by the factory's unrelenting regimen." Another faction suggests that Delia, who is known to wear a Lakers NBA basketball cap and a University of North Carolina T-shirt, and to carry a walkman wherever she goes, might simply have taken "the next logical step in her metamorphosis into a Yank" with her wild tale of alien abduction.

Skeptical as the local townspeople are, the discovery of a dead cow in the middle of a crop circle adds credence to Delia's story, and soon little Opunake is at the center of a media blitz. Then Phillip Sullivan, an ex-soldier with a dream of reopening the town library, arrives and falls for our heroine. One by one, secrets are laid bare, mysteries resolved, and nobody's life will be the same again. McCarten, a successful playwright, has woven together a novel that is both very funny and very serious. This is one extraterrestrial story with its feet planted firmly on the ground. --Alix Wilber

Genre: Literary Fiction

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