The Man from Marseille

J. P. Smith, Author St. Martin's Press $11.95 (152p) ISBN 978-0-312-51016-9
Nicholas, called Kolya by his intimates, is a 27-year-old library science student who falls in love with Suzanne, called Jack by everyone, a young woman in his English history class. Kolya is also the direct descendent of Mikhail, a Russian who slaughtered most of his family and from whom Kolya inherited pozhar-golava, a bizarre ESP-like power. Kolya is tormented by his ability to feel the pain of others and drinks vodka constantly to ease his anguish. He also drinks because he is frightened that Michael Miller, a stranger who has been stalking him, will discover his history and his power. Jack hopes to move in with Kolya in order to escape her home where her mother, Suzanne Berdo, is dying of cancer. The Berdo family denies the imminent death and does not allow the mother any comfort. Because of his power, Kolya shares Suzanne's mental and physical torment. As death approaches, he draws closer to the mother and sacrifices Jack's love. He eventually discovers that Miller is a distant cousin whose young son has also inherited pozhar-golava and who hopes to soothe his child's pain by introducing him to Kolya. This imaginative first novel is written in the form of diary entries, and convincingly imitates the intimacy of notes to oneself. Kennedy skillfully and credibly integrates the fantastic events into a realistic milieu, creating an alluring, haunting narrative that conveys the pain of death and loss of love. (September 6)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1985
Release date: 01/01/1985
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