Evenings at Mongini's, and Other Stories

Russell Lucas, Author Summit Books $18.45 (264p) ISBN 978-0-671-72746-8
A debut collection by an Englishman born and raised in India announces the presence of an authoritative voice, well in command of its subjects--essentially, the demimonde of Bombay of the 1940s and '50s. Lucas is arch, his writing mordant and his eye unforgiving. His preoccupation with sexual perversity, however, quickly becomes monotonous. The first story, ``Beautiful Billimoria,'' opens wittily enough: the boy Bomanji is cured of the habitual masturbation prompted by his obsession with Dorothy Lamour when his mother, ``in an awesome act of maternal devotion, charred the screaming youth's testicles with the red-hot tip of a Burmah cheroot. That did it. He grew up to be a tractable and lovable human being.'' But a barrage of salacious encounters numbs the reader: these are the kind of entertainments in which a disproportionate number of the female characters turn out to be lesbians, as reported in the final paragraphs, and in which voyeurism is as common as tiddledywinks, brothels as banal as parking lots. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 261 pages - 978-0-434-43646-0
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