Margery Kempe

Robert Gluck, Author, GLC, Author
Robert Gluck, Author, GLC, Author Serpent's Tail $11.99 (204p) ISBN 978-1-85242-334-6
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Margery Kempe lives up to neither its potential nor its premise. Gluck (Jack the Modernist) attempts to juxtapose his obsession for a young man called ``L.'' with the grotesque lust of a 15th-century mystic for Jesus. The historical Kempe followed her prolific marriage (14 children) with a round of pilgrimages, which she recorded in The Book of Margery Kempe, one of the earliest autobiographies. Gluck's character is rendered as an offensive creature who seeks sainthood through a sexual alliance with Jesus. In sections devoted to the author's affair with ``L.,'' the prose is lyrical and elegant, heavy with Gluck's growing dependency and despondency: ``My last word when I die will be his name-to say it in the grandest setting.'' Conversely, those with Kempe are filled with graphic, disparaging remarks about women (including descriptions of the genitalia of every female character, no matter how minor). It's not the idea of Jesus having a sex life that is so repellent but the strident explicitness-a marked contrast from Gluck and L.'s lovemaking, which comes as a natural part of their story and depicts the author's all-consuming passion. Lastly, Gluck's Margery is so ugly and coarse she doesn't come across as a woman at all-just a man's skewed rendering of one. Whatever Gluck's intention, he has failed. Perhaps Margery knew better than he ``that failure was intrinsic, success merely an exception.'' (Nov.)
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