Mag

James Sorel-Cameron, Author Viking Penguin $19.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-241-12800-8
Set in Britain in a vague, feudal past, this first novel reaches toward a Dickensian sensibility but fails to achieve its ambitious goals. The heroine is a mute hunchback. Born into a depraved and indifferent world, she is destined to survive every cruelty that befalls her (``She can always submit: she can never surrender''). Filth, pestilence, sexual nastiness and vicious inhumanity pervade this charmless tale as Mag moves through several allegorical stages to her final destination, a curiously satisfying marriage to a sadistic and psychotic hangman. Sorel-Cameron's powerful writing makes the vileness all the more vivid, but his idiosyncratic way with words yields overlong sentences abounding with phrases like ``fondling a great, black bottle that was as big as her head and from which she pulled mouthfuls . . . rolling it about her gums before swallowing loudly and gasping and belching as it bulged down her gullet. . . .'' Where Patrick Suskind's Perfume succeeds with a somewhat similar premise, Sorel-Cameron's first effort is a painful example of talent misdirected. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
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