The Orient-Express

Gregor Von Rezzori, Author, Gregor Von Rezzori, Author, H. F. De Rothermann, Translator
Gregor Von Rezzori, Author, Gregor Von Rezzori, Author, H. F. De Rothermann, Translator Knopf Publishing Group $21 (181p) ISBN 978-0-394-57347-2
Reviewed on: 09/28/1992
Release date: 10/01/1992
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A Manhattan financier in the throes of an existential crisis flees his job and wife to travel aimlessly around the world in this elegant meditation on eros, death, the futility of existence, the Americanization of the Old World and the quest for self-transcendence. In the first half of the novel the nameless narrator, holed up in Venice, reflects on his half-Armenian, half-English ancestry, his boyhood in Romania and England, the corporate rat race and his compulsive lovemaking. Neither his frigid wife Linda, a social activist, nor his mistress Denise, who models her lifestyle on those of old movie heroines, fulfills his craving for union. In the second half, the protagonist heads for London on the Orient Express, replicating the legendary train ride he had taken half a century earlier as a 15-year-old. The ``myth of the luxury train,'' a romantic symbol of a bygone epoch, evaporates as he has meaningless sex with a Finnish tour guide and contemplates the modern world's pollution, shrunken expectations and rush to self-destruction. Rezzori ( Memoirs of an Anti-Semite ) rails at life's absurdities, celebrates its fleeting joys and storms the silent vault of heaven--``the Black Hole that gobbles everything up and regurgitates it, in the eternal process of maintaining business as usual.'' (Sept.)
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