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Temporary Agency Hardcover – July 1, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
Pollack's latest presumes knowledge of its prequel, Unquenchable Fire, in which entities known as Bright Beings, Malignant Ones and Benign Ones actively participate in human affairs. In any case, this is a first-rate work, comprised of two related novellas. The title entry introduces narrator Ellen Pierson, whose cousin Paul Cabot unwittingly becomes involved with a Malignant One named Lisa Black Dust 7 (who runs a temp agency). Paul's travails lead the adolescent Ellen and her family to enlist the aid of lawyer Alison Birkett, who attempts to restore peace to Paul's life. Ellen and Alison uncover Grand Conspiracies, and Ellen discovers what people will do in the name of pragmatism. In the next story, "Benign Adjustments," Alison and Ellen, who's now an adult, are paired again, to protect Alexander Timmerman, who, aided by three Benign Ones, espouses peace, love and reform of the financial system. The latter preachment leads to trouble, including a scene on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange graphic enough for the most avid action-adventure fan, but the heart of the novella examines how the most benign intentions can be adulterated by human frailties. Pollack is primarily concerned with the character and basic emotional underpinnings of the people in her future society-and, by extension-in our own. The two novellas combine into a consistently rational framework while never forgetting that the key to good fiction is people and what happens to them.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Against the backdrop of a New Age America where shamanic magic and spirit visitors are real, a young woman attracts the unwelcome attention of the Malignant One, whose plans for the ultimate liberation of humanity can only result in destruction. Set in the world of Unquenchable Fire (LJ 4/15/92), Pollack's latest novel features a determined heroine whose faith in her own convictions becomes her most formidable weapon. Though moral con-servatives may be offended, the author's brilliant extrapolation of a spiritually awakened society bears witness to her potent literary imagination. Most libraries should own this title.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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In this story responsibility takes the form of Lisa Black Dust 7 (coolest naming convention ever, by the way), an evil spirit with designs on Ellen's cousin, Paul. He has already compromised his own ability to resist, and Ellen attempts to save him. The fight is fierce, but Ellen does gain an ally in the process: Allison, a lawyer "specializing in demonic possession." The outcome is a messy draw, and the groundwork for the second part of the book, set roughly a decade later, is set.
By then, Ellen is out as a lesbian. In Temporary Agency sexual orientation is not the crisis some make of it today, but meeting Allison again gives Ellen a different sort of challenge. Sharp barriers remain between the pair as a result of Paul's ultimate fate, but their love overcomes all. The romance is an intoxicating blend of lust and compassion. Then it is off to face a supernatural threat with roots in their shared past.
I have been known to drop books with a two-part structure like Temporary Agency, but not this time. Ms. Pollack has written a masterpiece. I don't give 5 stars lightly, but for this book I do so without hesitation.
Earth Mother's Grace
This is how the book begins, perfectly mixing modern life and fantasy:
"When I was fourteen, a cousin of mine angered a Malignant One. It was a big case, a genuine scandal. Maybe you remember it. At the time, when it all ended, I just wanted to forget about the whole thing. But a couple of years have passed and I guess maybe it's time to think about it again."
"The Bright Being lived in the office building where my cousin Paul worked analyzing retail sales reports. I don't know how she got there, really. We never did find that out. I don't even know how long she was there. I mean, before Paul met her. Maybe she lived on that same spot long before the building went up. Maybe she even lived there for thousands of years, way before the Indians came. No one really knows how old the Beings are. Some people say -- I read this in a book, actually -- that the Bright Beings, the Malignant Ones and the Benign Ones, go back to the beginning of the universe. According to this Sacred Physics book, the Big Bang Story that broke open the cosmic ylem egg showered out the Beings along with all the quarks and tachyons and all the rest of them. The Beings came from a kind of impurity in the ylem, a sort of aesthetic flaw in the original story. So maybe the Ferocious One lived at that spot for millions of years, embedded in the granite of Manhattan Island, waiting for humans, for victims -- like my poor cousin Paul."
"Or maybe she never lived there at all until the building went up. Maybe the contractor summoned her, maybe her offered her space in her building in exchange for help in getting his contract bid accepted. I thought of this because of what happened later. And because of what happened with the Defense Department."
Each paragraph just keeps leading into the next. If it doesn't grab you, you're dead. It's set in the same world as Unquenchable Fire, but is not a sequel or a prequel, and is a very different book. In Temporary Agency, Ellen the narrator's cousin Paul dates a woman who turns out to be a Malignant One. The second part of the book, Benign Adjustments, is a little slower, and deals with the aftermath of what happened to Paul, and the scandal that followed.