The discovery of Magdalene--believed to be the American film star who had disappeared twenty years earlier--on an island in the Aegean, a haven for artists and writers, brings a wave of historians, filmmakers, spies, and scandalmongers to the island's shores
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Another sophisticated puzzler from Gould (Subject to Change, 1988, etc.) that uses ambiguous--though always rich--language and fragments of popular culture to toy with readers in a perversely pleasing way. Gould's subject now is fame, embodied in Magdalene--a Madonna-as-Marilyn superstar come to the island of Medusa to die, separate herself from her public persona, or tell her life story, complete with details on her liaison with a president. Disembarked at Rob Twist's American Bar, she goes for a swim, only to be stung by the strange beast that haunts waters around the island. On shore, a handful of men and women--all of them cannibalizers of the famous--are ready to sting her too, including Dr. Grace Craven, who's made the trip to Medusa to gather information for a Magdalene biography and land the Magdalene collection of memorabilia for her lover, a museum director named S.Z. Hroch. As with so many celebrities, Magdalene proves to be privately needy, which is why she enters into a sexual relationship with Grace. But who's using who? It's difficult to say, especially when Grace becomes utterly submerged in her subject, and then gets cheated out of the prize Magdalene memento--a case full of vials containing famous men's sperm (``a bloody great Swiss bank of world-class ejaculate''). Worse, Grace learns that Hroch doesn't want the treasure trove unless Magdalene dies, which she seems to at the end of this hermetic little novel. Or has she just gone into hiding, to reappear like some phoenix 20 years hence? Curious twists, lurking symbols, and meaning within meaning are Gould's stock and trade. But what she's up to here--other than a freewheeling discussion of fame and a long drink of thick text--is anyone's guess. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
In this frothy spoof of seedy celebritydom, Gould ( A Sea Change ; Such Good Friends ) gathers "a colony of outcasts" who loaf on the Aegean isle of Medusa and prey on one another's nasty secrets. After aging, near-legendary actress Magdalene--reputed former mistress of "the president"--is stung by the deadly medusa jellyfish during a reckless evening swim, film crews, archivists and gossipmongers arrive to wait for her to die. Besides interviewing Magdalene, the assembled hope to dig into her trunkful of photos and scandalous mementos. Among the devoted flock is film noir scholar Grace Craven, who arrives with her ex-paramour, movie museum director S. Z. Hroch, and cultivates Magdalene with such amorous lesbian intensity that Magdalene begins to view Grace as a human variation of the medusa. As Magdalene's wounds heal and reopen, she meditates on death and her ruined beauty, reliving fantasies and replaying favorite cinematic scenes. Gould writes playfully, punningly, and with elegant malice, but while the narrative surface sparkles, the novel remains vacuous and the flimsy, lampooned characters ultimately fail to engage the reader.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Knopf, 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0394582292
Book Description Alfred A. Knopf, 1991. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0394582292