BT-Enigmatic Eye

Moacyr Scliar, Author Ballantine Books $5.95 (100p) ISBN 978-0-345-35969-8
In this collection's title story, a wealthy man asks a thief to steal a masterful portrait of an old aristocrat with an enigmatic gaze. The man stares at the painting for hours at a time and sees the image slowly vanish until only the right eye is left, then nothing. The man falls ill, recovers and decides to re-create the painting on the blank canvas. Scliar's rendition of the Dorian Gray story (with a hint of the Cheshire cat) is representative of his strange, compelling fiction. In these very brief modern-day myths, the Brazilian physician and author ( The Centaur in the Garden ) envisages the life of an ordinary personfor example, an old corporal who returns to base drunk and can't remember the passwordthen tersely, mysteriously, leads him into a bizarre, often violent set of circumstances: the corporal enters the base, is shot by the sentry and only then remembers that the password is ``a dead shot.'' Drawing from ancient and pop culture (Charles Atlas meets the mythical Atlas) as well as from his Jewish heritage, Scliar's literary games puzzle out the meaning and meaninglessness of life, and the capriciousness of fate. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/1989
Release date: 02/01/1989
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