Robinson

Chris Petit, Author Viking Books $20.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-670-84925-3
As viewers of his films ( An Unsuitable Job for a Woman , etc.) might expect, director/critic Petit's debut novel is mostly a mood piece of deeply cinematic inspiration. His tale of a shadowy entrepreneur prowling the shadowy world of London's vice rings expends much of its energy on trying to lend a dreamy, Wim Wenders quality to Soho's twilit streets. It certainly wastes all too little effort on cranking up the formulaic existential non-plot that his nameless, placeless narrator--a film editor on the skids--weaves out of the eponymous Robinson's dabblings in drugs and debauchery. Then again, that's undoubtedly the point: Petit has set himself self-consciously to ape the elliptical world of film noir , ``old thrillers with sparse stories and labyrinthine emotional worlds.'' Only when Robinson turns his energies to pornography does Petit jar his louche and lugubrious cast of characters into telling action. As Robinson moves from cheesy skinflicks to voyeuristic moralities, ``little vignettes on the nature of power and control,'' and finally to an epic pornographic folly which coheres only in his own pathological imagination, Petit accordingly scales up his own narrative into a grand fable of lost identities in a disintegrating cultural landscape. By the close, the story hovers at the edges of abstraction. Petit's mysteries ultimately amount to nothing more than atmospherics. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/1994
Release date: 02/01/1994
Paperback - 204 pages - 978-1-86207-463-7
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