During a visit to New York's most prestigious museum, Eric Auden slips into a wing under renovation and impulsively pockets an ancient idol of the Goddess of Desire. As the city speculates about the bold thief's identity, Eric begins a new life under the goddess's spell. He moves to a West Village loft and reencounters a childhood friend, Timothy Rampling; they haunt the downstairs cafe, The Mystery Roast, and and there--capitalizing on both the tabloid publicity blitz and the goddess's mysterious power--start to sell replicas of the idol. These stone carvings of the Goddess of Desire become first a downtown art happening--``artifactualism''--and then a fad that sweeps the city, making celebrities of Eric and Timothy. Gadol's ( Coyote ) alchemical ability to transmute his comic vision into a world alive with emotion recalls Joseph Heller's in Catch-22. He can make the hot/cold romances of his central characters seem in turn earthborn and ancient or subtly, tragically modern, but the intricate satirical plot carries such operatic passions lightly. Gadol's prose has a panoptic sweep, capturing New York's crass liveliness and--under the influence of Desire--its haunted past. This novel is too modern and raw to be called fabulist or fantastic, and too full of comic turns and virtuoso storytelling to be labeled realistic. Like the unknown blends of beans (Kenyan Kirinyaga? Mexican Pluma? Sumatra Boengie?) from which the book and the cafe take their names, Mystery Roast is a brew of exotic strains whose strengths and nuances connoisseurs will enjoy tasting for themselves. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/30/1992 Release date: 12/01/1992 Genre: Fiction
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