Dorit in Lesbos

Toby Olson, Author Simon & Schuster $19.45 (430p) ISBN 978-0-671-68486-0
This enigmatic, contemplative fifth novel from the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning novelist and poet ( Utah ; We Are the Past ) plumbs human connections to their almost intangible underlayers, but the load of cumbersome details slows the pace. Sixty-two-year-old Edward Church deserts his wife and leaves Congress Park, Ill. to immerse himself in his passion for painting on the Greek isle of Lesbos. He is the second person in his family to decamp; his pregnant daughter Angela has recently walked out on her husband. Twenty years later, Edward's death leads nephew and narrator Jack to unravel the mystery of Dorit, an American woman who served as his uncle's muse. Clues gleaned from Edward's letters and paintings launch Jack on an adventurous, picaresque quest for Dorit, Angela and his own past. Olson uses dreamy, symbolic prose to explore ``the surface of the world where all beauty resides'' and the ``power of life'' rippling beneath. Brush-stroking the sensual essences of foreign lands, sapphic love, art, architecture and landscaping, Olson conveys the poetry of body and soul but, curiously, gives the workings of the mind short shrift. His characters lack psychological depth, and his intriguing plot is hampered by implausible details and unanswered questions. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Paperback - 978-1-55713-214-7
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