The Photographer's Sweethearts

Diana Hartog, Author Overlook Press $22.95 (228p) ISBN 978-0-87951-646-8
The antihero of this short, disturbing first novel is Louie Olsen, a turn-of-the-century Danish immigrant in California who believes in herbal remedies, reincarnation and astral planes of existence. He also likes to take nude photographs of young children. In the process, he often finds himself teaching the ""Teddybears""--as he refers to all kids--a little about the sexual act. In other respects, Louie is a grand old fella, gladly helping out those in need and giving away silver dollars. But, as might be expected, Louie's preference for the company of children eventually puts him in the path of angry parents and an intractable bureaucracy. Through court documents from his run-ins with the law, letters home to his brothers, as well as his own memories of growing up in a small Danish town, Hartog paints a compassionate portrait of a monster in Good Samaritan's clothing. Based on a real case, her novel is crisp and confident. When the earnest, nearly simple-minded Louie narrates, he sounds like a predecessor of some present-day New Age naturist, and his predations spring believably from innocence and frustrated good will. Unfortunately, Louie is too simple: and because of this, the story eventually loses much of its shock, depth and appeal. Author tour. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1996
Release date: 01/01/1996
Paperback - 228 pages - 978-0-87951-796-0
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