The Act of Love

Howard Jacobson, Author
Howard Jacobson, Author . Simon & Schuster $25 (333p) ISBN 978-1-4165-9423-9
Reviewed on: 12/22/2008
Release date: 03/01/2009

In his naughtily erudite 10th novel, British author Jacobson (Kalooki Nights ) explores the nature of the erotic with a wicked twist. Narrator Felix Quinn, a fusty antiquarian bookseller in contemporary London, wants to cuckold himself in order to “save his marriage” and give himself the freedom to be jealous. The unwitting but willing participant in Felix's scheme, Marius, is a libertine without scruples: he first appears in the tale some years previously, letching after two underage girls while attending the funeral of a man whose wife he had seduced. As for Felix's wife, Marisa, she embraces the infidelity foisted on her with gusto, relishing her thrice-weekly assignations and, after much persuasion, titillating her curious husband with details of their intimacies. Though Felix's narration is disconcertingly mannered, he's remarkably honest and blisteringly funny, while Jacobson's prose is sharp as ever, loaded with spiky dialogue and wonderfully arch observations. (Mar.)

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