The American Woman in the Chinese Hat

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9780452275072: The American Woman in the Chinese Hat

“An intense, incantatory, erotic novel . . . An exquisitely calibrated evocation of longing and lust.”—Vogue
 
Abandoned by her lover of ten years and devastated by the painful death of her brother, an American writer named Catherine comes to live and heal her wounds in the lush, crisp, light-dappled French Riviera. But the sensual magic of summertime only underscores Catherine’s longing, as she falls deeper and deeper into an irretrievable madness. With passionate abandon and detachment, Catherine pursues her own destruction through brief but irresistible sexual encounters with an Arlesian woman, a fireman, a poet, and three thieves, until she meets Lucien, a man who looks as if he “stepped out of an unmade film by dead Truffant,” and who she senses to be her match in solitude and beauty. Through this mysterious, doomed, bittersweet liaison Catherine makes one last attempt to halt her decline, only to face the shattering, inevitable conclusion of this mesmerizing drama of sex, betrayal, and dissolution.
 
Author Carole Maso’s nuanced storytelling manipulates language with the graceful precision of a stained glass artisan—refracting reality, casting light, and dazzling with color the erotic adventures of a woman and the inner life of an artist inspired and doomed by desire.
 
“Gorgeous . . . an outpouring of passion.”—San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Terse, musical and hypnotic . . . Maso tracks with horrifying authenticity the downward spiral of Catherine’s depression.”—Los Angeles Times
 
“A fever dream of love and sanctuary.”—Elle

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From the Back Cover:

Carole Maso's stunning, erotic fourth novel chronicles the dark, irresistible adventures of an American writer named Catherine who has come to France to live. Set into motion by a single act of abandonment-Catherine's lover of ten years has left her-she falls deeper and deeper into an irretrievable madness. With passionate abandon and detachment Catherine pursues her own destruction. Forcing the boundaries of identity and the limits of her eroticism, she enters a series of blinding sexual encounters with a poet, a fascist, a young Arlesian woman, a fireman, and three thieves. Eerily she splits herself in two so that she is both the one who watches and the one who is watched, creator and creation, author and character, as she observes herself from afar "And I would like to help her", the one who watches says, "but I can't". Finally she meets Lucien, the solitary, cynical, beautiful man with long hair who looks as though he has "stepped out of an unmade film by the dead Truffaut", and through this mysterious, doomed, bittersweet liaison Catherine makes one last attempt to halt her decline through the redemptive act of story-telling. She begins to invent the story of their lives, telling it to him half in English, half in French, joining their solitudes for a moment before losing forever her belief that the shapely, hopeful prospects of narrative make sense of expenence. "She notices how everything is given up or taken away" as she loses the power of the imagination or memory or the body to console, and finally of language to convey meaning. This mesmerizing drama of sex, betrayal, and dissolution with its shattering inevitable conclusion is played out against the dazzling backdrop of thebeautiful, indifferent Cote d'Azur in summer. Written in a dwindling lexicon with a simple, warped musicality, The American Woman in the Chinese Hat is a dark, uncompromising, seductive work of art.

About the Author:

Carole Maso, the director of the Creative Writing Department at Brown University, is the author of four novels and a book-length erotic prose poem, all of which have received high critical acclaim. She was the recipient of the 1993 Lannan Literary Fellowship for fiction, as well as numerous other awards. Maso has been profiled in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Poets and Writers, The Village Voice, and others. She splits her time between New York and Providence, Rhode Island.

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