—SMALL SPIRAL NOTEBOOK by John Mangarella
"A book of superbly drawn scenes."
“This is by no means a coming of age story. This is a coming into life tale.”
“The heart of this novel, in itself a force of time and place and people, is the story of love.”
“The magic of Ms. Hamann's novel is that we start the journey seeing through Eveline's eyes and by they last page we realize we are, indeed, seeing through our own in a slightly different way.”
Anthropology of an American Girl is written at the speed of sight. H.T. Hamann never mistakes viewpoint for point of view. Her words never perch atop a cliff straining to absorb the vastness of life. Instead of a stationary peek through wide-angle binoculars, she flawlessly opens Eveline's life through an ever changing camera eye that adapts instantaneously to people, events and surroundings. Even though Eveline's story begins at East Hampton High School in 1979, this is by no means a coming of age story. This is a coming into life tale about a talented young artist whose pathway through her heart and soul lead to the steel and girder of Manhattan. As Eveline views her world, we first notice Jack, her high school boyfriend. He's young, a talented musician, brash, opinionated and often doesn't catch the expression of intense scrutiny that peeks through Eveline's facial mask. He truly does "know it all" for his age and that's quite all right with Eveline because she's perfecting her art while trudging through high school. Eveline's view drives the perpetual motor of this story throughout every page. This reader was certain that Jack would confront the rapists in some way. He doesn't. Eveline's male friends also show a bit of promise in the revenge department but Ms. Hamann, in her masterful handling of this sequence, does not let it go there because she knows the simple, naked truth. People do not care enough to intercede. That too many men just don't regard women as their partners in life and would allow any crime against them from sheer laziness. Somewhere within this horror, and let me remind you, it is written as a very quiet horror, Eveline realizes that Jack can never protect her. He's not strong enough. Oh, he's smart and talented and fun but despite his bravado, he is not strong enough to be the man to her woman. When her eyes lock with Harrison Rourke's, she's certain he possesses more strength than she could ever dream. Even though she does not move away from Jack, her relationship with Rourke builds intensely, a moment here and a moment there bracketed by a great deal of thinking on her part. Rourke is older than Eveline. He's been hired to assist the drama department and he works with Eveline on a theater project. They want to see each other. They want to exchange the thoughts of one another's lives but they are extremely careful. Jack is still around and Kate, Eveline's best friend, finds Rourke enticing. There is an immediate understanding between Eveline and Rourke and their relationship grows. During the same period, she meets Mark. He's wealthy and knows how to use his wealth as every bit the weapon as Rourke's hands are in the boxing ring. As Eveline develops her art in Manhattan, Rourke and Mark, by then serious rivals, vie for her. The heart of this novel, in itself a force of time and place and people, is the story of love. But that is too simple a statement to make about Anthropology of An American Girl. It's also about growing through their own perceptions of love for one another. Sometimes those perceptions set them at odds with one another but at all times, from the popular music that Ms. Hamann punctuates through the book to the descriptions of locales as they existed in the 1980's, Eveline, Rourke, Mark, Jack, Kate and the other characters are shadowed by the Ronald Reagan's America. As a note, this reviewer was reminded of Robert Montgomery's first person camera eye performance in the noir film, The Lady of The Lake, in which you see all that the detective sees but never see him until the end. Take such a view and style it with a dash of John Dos Passos and you have good idea of the ground across which Ms. Hamann is traveling. Her natural storytelling pours Eveline's life onto the page exactly the way all of our lives spill forth from moment to moment across our days and nights. The magic of Ms. Hamann's novel is that we start the journey seeing through Eveline's eyes and by they last page we realize we are, indeed, seeing through our own in a slightly different way. Vernacular Press is a New York publishing company — but not a typical one. Vernacular’s launch title, Anthropology of an American Girl, has gotten rave reviews as a work of literature, and also as a work of art. The advance galleys, hand-crafted and beautifully packaged, caused quite a stir and have become quite collectible. With an established reputation for the design and manufacture of premium printed pieces, Vernacular has chosen to make books that are collectibles.