Billed as ""the first-ever novel to be serialized on the World Wide Web,"" Cooper's ambitious but unfocused second novel (after Amnesia) delivers a jumpy narrative more suitable for cyberspace than for the traditional page. Aging architect Ariel Price dominates his colleagues and companions all his life until, traveling in Israel, he receives the first chapter of a hostile biography undertaken by obscure Canadian academic Theseus Crouch. Unwilling to submit to exposure in print, Price decides to murder his biographer. Fragmented from the beginning, the narrative moves in short scenes full of archly exotic characters, chief among them Price's deformed former assistant and the innocent, abused waif whom he befriends. Both Price and Crouch return intermittently to center stage but never long enough for their conflict to gain steam. Intentionally labyrinthine (references to mazes dot the text), the plot never quite lives up to its high concept, while Cooper's polished sententiae (on architecture, the nature of thought, urban life) strain for solemnity at the expense of character and place. Lacking the human sprawl of a similarly moralizing, untidy work like William Gaddis's The Recognitions, this undeniably intelligent but slow little book devolves too often into what seems a rather forced jeu d'esprit. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/02/1998 Release date: 02/01/1998 Genre: Fiction
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