Fantastique

Marvin Kaye, Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (262p) ISBN 978-0-312-08191-1
Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique provides the structural and thematic framework for this novel as the prolific Kaye ( A Lively Game of Death ) runs the gamut from supernatural experiences, Expressionist drama, jealousy and infidelity through murder and a vision of hell that blends eerie bedtime tales with even stranger vaudeville routines and bits of Dante's Inferno. Kaye takes readers on such a wild ride that the first chapter only makes sense in light of the rest of the book. Carl Richards, wunderkind director of successful theatrical productions in the Grand Guignol style, decides to stage Georg Buchner's Woyzek. At the auditions in New York City, a woman named Angelica Winters, who has the talent and timing required for the play's female lead role (all but promised to Carl's superstar wife Diana), ingratiates herself and soon becomes Diana's understudy. The next day Carl runs into Angelica in the occult section of Coliseum Books, where they discuss out-of-body experiences and she recommends various titles and authors. From here on, the story becomes a twisted version of All About Eve as the company suffers one tragedy after another. Readers will quickly get at least one step ahead of the plot developments, but Kaye holds his audience's attention with imagination and style. The scarily plausible stream-of-consciousness passages, coupled with clever use of excerpts from Woyzek, prepare readers for Carl's final out-of-body journey through hell--a place, the author seems to be saying, where a lifetime of personal fears lurk. Not quite the shocker it aspires to be, but still good entertainment. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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