Summer Is the Cote D'Azure

Michael Gifkins, Author Penguin Books $6.95 (151p) ISBN 978-0-14-009732-0
Gifkins, a New Zealander, offers 11 stories that share a lazy, often erotic ambience. Many of his characters wait for something to happenusually there is tension and uncertainty in their relations with mates and loversand seem distracted and befuddled when, as more often than not, they or others commit acts of betrayal and hostility. In the title story, which takes place in the south of France, an Englishwoman in her 20s is in love with an older New Zealander who gives pedantic speeches about current events and becomes caught up in the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior. He tells the narrator, a virgin, that he can't sleep with her because he's afraid of catching AIDS, but as he leaves to travel elsewhere in Europe, he announces that he slept with her mother. (Typical of Gifkins's characters, the narrator responds by saying meekly, ""What do you expect me to do about it?'') ``The Latter-Day Triumph of Graves'' is a wonderful send-up of fundamentalism (a fire-and-brimstone minister gets sexually excited when his wife confesses to touching a stranger's hands), and the narrator of ``Metamorphosis'' captures the slow pace of New Orleans in the company of some racist natives. Despite many wonderful moments, this collection as a whole too often has a numb, empty quality. (September)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1987
Release date: 09/01/1987
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