Subject to Change

Lois Gould, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $16.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-374-27154-1
Gould is a writer who determinedly resists pigeonholing and in each book strikes out in fresh directions. After several early, waspish social comedies, she offered a much more profound, subtle psychological novel in A Sea Change, then a hallucinatory study of sex and power in La Presidenta. Now she has turned fabulist. Subject to Change is a gorgeously written but puzzling fairy story for adults, set in an enchanted never-never land and starring a declining king, his restless wife, his aging but irresistible mistress, an all-purpose female dwarf who is a kind of bitter chorus and a wandering scholar-adventurer-magician who enters all their lives. At first one hopes the book is perhaps a deeply pondered satire on the present age, but there seem to be no real points of connection. This is simply word-spinningoften magical in its skill, with suggestions of the rich decadence of Oscar Wilde's fairy talesbut ultimately empty. It's impossible not to admire Gould's daring in trying for something so very different from anything she has done; but it's equally impossible not to be disappointed at seeing so keen a mind, and such craft, expended on a glittering bauble. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1988
Release date: 07/01/1988
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