Lives of the Saints

David R. Slavitt, Author Atheneum Books $0 (213p) ISBN 978-0-689-12079-4
This remarkably dark, funny and spiritually anguished novel begins as Slavitt's narrator, a down-and-out journalist for a sleazy Florida tabloid, writes up the life of a victim of a mass-murder at the local Piggly-Wiggly. Conducting his gruesomely offhand investigation, he introduces the reader to his philosophy of why things occur as they do, citing the works of an 18th-century rationalist philosopher named Malebranche, who believed all things happen through the will of God, and that individual destiny has nothing to do with cause and effect. The narrator's twisted ruminations take on coherence as we learn of his recent loss of both wife and daughter in a car accident, and of the souring of his career as a university professor, which led him in a fit of self-loathing to write for the tabloids. As he drifts aimlessly from one tabloid sensation to another, he discovers similarities between his sort of journalism and The Lives of the Saints , juxtaposing today's lurid headlines with the equally lurid and absurd martyrdoms of old. Slavitt's ( Salazar Blinks ) writing is elegant, sinister and witty, as affecting as Nabokov's, as original as Nathanael West's. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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