cover image Childish Loves

Childish Loves

Benjamin Markovits. Norton, $14.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-393-33023-6

The conclusion of Markovits's Byron trilogy focuses on Lord Byron's youth and then finally his death. Markovits skillfully blends the stories of Byron's discovery of his own homosexuality with that of his lover and finally, with the story of Ben Markovits, the writer who is piecing together this novel from the manuscripts of a dead colleague, Peter Sullivan. The character of Markovits attempts to understand Sullivan's life through his work, tracing his family and past. This task proves difficult given that Sullivan had been accused of sexually harassing a former student and was teaching under an assumed identity. Markovits, himself facing difficulties in his marriage, explores his feelings about desire. Markovits, the author, demonstrates a facility with language and construction of narrative by building parallels between the three writers featured in the story (Markovits, Sullivan, and Byron). These parallels show the different fates that writers can meet—immortality, modest commercial success, and utter obscurity—while determining the importance of dedication to family, art, and sexual passion. While readers who are unfamiliar with the previous two books in the series may be a bit thrown by the story-in-story route (which does not occur in the other two), they will likely be inspired to pick up Markovits' past work. (July)