Flesh

David Galef, Author Permanent Press (NY) $28 (256p) ISBN 978-1-877946-55-4
Obsession takes over two lives--one brazenly, the other more sneakily--in this witty black comedy of lust, academia and Southern manners. When bachelor history professor Max Finster arrives in the university community of Oxford, Miss., he moves in next door to Don and Susan Shapiro, and all of their lives are headed for dramatic change. Narrator Don, a professor of English, gradually becomes fascinated by Max, his mysterious past, polymathic mind, chameleon personality and strange sexual agenda. Max gets busy ravishing a series of obese women, each larger than the previous one, as Don theorizes and looks on--sometimes literally, via a peephole he has drilled through the apartment wall. This sordid activity is set against a panorama of outwardly wholesome college life, but Don's insider perspective digs beneath the facades both of professiorial pretense and the institutionalized civility of the South. First-novelist Galef, himself a tenured professor (he also has published short stories and nonfiction articles), writes knowingly of the academic scene, sparing no one, and sheds a whole new light on the subtleties of male bonding. His funny, insightful narrative is peppered with wonderfully erudite diction and literary conceits. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/1995
Release date: 04/01/1995
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