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Book Review of The Winter Zoo: A Novel

The Winter Zoo: A Novel
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A young man abandons his newborn baby in an Iowa delivery room to join his cousin for a series of adventures in Poland in Beckman's wildly unfocused, over-the-top debut novel, which features plenty of libidinous bed-hopping as well as some postglasnost political intrigue. Gurney is the free-spirited protagonist who takes off for Krak¢w when he finds himself overwhelmed at the prospect of fatherhood with his girlfriend, Sheila. After landing in Poland, he tries to get a teaching job through his sexy cousin Jane. The job falls through, but Gurney lands on his feet as a croupier in a local casino, and he manages to ignore the incestuous attraction to his cousin long enough to begin an affair with an attractive, bisexual academic named Jackie Witherspoon. Between romantic adventures, Gurney finds himself menaced by Jane's roommate's father, Zbigniew Zamoyski, a murderous former high-level Communist who bears a formidable grudge against Americans. Gurney's situation becomes even more perilous when Jackie wins big at his roulette wheel, and suddenly he is on the run from local authorities who suspect him of rigging the game.