Paul Loewen, Author St. Martin's Press $0 (271p) ISBN 978-0-312-01395-0
Loewen's unusual first novel is an ambitiously literate retelling of Puccini's opera, Madama Butterfly. The tale centers around the sybaritic cad, Henry Pinkerton, a vaguely Henry Jamesian character, who indulges in decidedly un-Jamesian activities. Forced by his wealthy father to leave America after making known his desire to marry alluring, enigmatic and socially unsuitable Kate, Pinkerton goes to Japan, where he falls in love with the beautiful geisha Butterfly. Eventually he marries and has a child with Butterfly, though he is not content with this domesticity. He returns to the States on news that his father is dying, and once again meets Kate. Pinkerton's desire for Kate reawakens and he becomes enslaved to herquite literallyas she proves to be something more, and also less, than a lady of high breeding. What we discover, perhaps too late to make the book totally successful, is Pinkerton's motivation for marrying Butterfly and then succumbing to Kate'se trickery and revenge and the unrelieved, caged heat in his loins. In her final letter to Pinkerton, Butterfly gives us the key to his warped nature: ""You are weak because you have no purpose in life. . . . You obey your desires and not your destiny.'' Carefully crafted, in a style that combines flashbacks and diary entries to elliptically reveal the secrets at the heart of the plot, this explicitly erotic novel introduces a writer of some talent. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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