Medusa's Gift

Lois Gould, Author, Victoria Wilson, Editor Alfred A. Knopf $19 (199p) ISBN 978-0-394-58229-0
In this frothy spoof of seedy celebritydom, Gould ( A Sea Change ; Such Good Friends ) gathers ``a colony of outcasts'' who loaf on the Aegean isle of Medusa and prey on one another's nasty secrets. After aging, near-legendary actress Magdalene--reputed former mistress of ``the president''--is stung by the deadly medusa jellyfish during a reckless evening swim, film crews, archivists and gossipmongers arrive to wait for her to die. Besides interviewing Magdalene, the assembled hope to dig into her trunkful of photos and scandalous mementos. Among the devoted flock is film noir scholar Grace Craven, who arrives with her ex-paramour, movie museum director S. Z. Hroch, and cultivates Magdalene with such amorous lesbian intensity that Magdalene begins to view Grace as a human variation of the medusa. As Magdalene's wounds heal and reopen, she meditates on death and her ruined beauty, reliving fantasies and replaying favorite cinematic scenes. Gould writes playfully, punningly, and with elegant malice, but while the narrative surface sparkles, the novel remains vacuous and the flimsy, lampooned characters ultimately fail to engage the reader. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
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