Dorian: A Sequel to the Picture of Dorian Grey

Jeremy Reed, Author Peter Owen Publishers $34.95 (168p) ISBN 978-0-7206-1012-3
As in his biographical novels about de Sade, Artaud and Lautreamont, British poet and novelist Reed continues his exploration of the dark side of the psyche and sexuality. This hallucinatory novel features the doomed antihero of Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Unlike Wilde's Dorian, who stays permanently youthful while his portrait ages, Reed's decadent, self-hating Dorian has survived the laceration of his portrait. Disgusted by the aging process that ravages him, Dorian is an opium addict, voyeur and transvestite. He lives in perpetual existential crisis, seeking escape from his guilt over two murders--of Jim, his illegitimate half-brother, and Basil Hallward, his oldest friend--through sadomasochistic whippings, drugs, yoga, sex, magic and immersion in the occult. In Paris, he pursues a morbid love-hate affair with Lord Henry Wotton, who has left his wife. Dorian's chance meeting in Paris with Oscar Wilde (shattered, fitfully witty and recently released from jail after his persecution for homosexuality) brings Dorian a redemptive reprieve, yet their encounter is anticlimactic. Fleeing to Venice to elude a blackmailing transvestite drug pusher, Dorian takes up with an adoring youth, Florentino, whom he plans secretly to marry. Reed strews his tale with contemporary words (hologram, DNA, endorphin buzz), as if to validate his extrapolation of Wilde's concerns--numbing social conformity, absence of love and connection--into our time. If this dark fantasy is somewhat overheated, Reed is nonetheless an elegant stylist whose devotion to excess carries the reader along as he stunningly evokes life on the edge. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/05/1998
Release date: 01/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
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