In the Italian city of Labirinto, there is a Maze where all can find their heart's desire. There are only two problems: getting in, and getting out. In the world of this new novel from Midori (The Flight of Michael McBride), masks talk and sea nymphs and satyrs walk beside the classical personae of the Commedia dell'Arte--than whom none could be more ribald, mischievous and all-too-human. The patter is delicious as characters trade insults or love coos, all worthy of Moliere. The plot is as intricate as an old Gozzi scenario or one of Plautus's domestic farces, full of scoundrels, fools, lovers (""innamorati"") and braggarts getting in one another's way as they converge on the Maze to lift their various curses. The Maze, for its moral and psychological resonances, is reminiscent of Charles G. Finney's 1935 classic, The Circus of Dr. Lao. Of many interlocking subplots, one involves the forced collaboration of a voiceless siren and a poet who has muted his poetic vice to practice law; they plead for comfort before the severed head of Orpheus. Another plot pairs a stuttering actor and a mask maker's myopic daughter as innamorati as they free each other through the Maze. The mask maker herself enters the Maze and joins bloodthirsty, reveling Bacchae to throw off the curse of her faithless lover. It's fairly miraculous how Snyder pulls all this off; she does, though. The hybrid of street theater and fantasy seems to spin itself into existence before the reader's eyes. Farts, decapitations and sirens' songs are equally likely and equally delightful in this amazing story. Even the few purple passages, which seem clumsy at first, turn out to be quite apt in the fabric of the remarkable whole. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/29/1998 Release date: 07/01/1998 Genre: Fiction
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