cover image Tintin in the New World: A Romance

Tintin in the New World: A Romance

Frederic Tuten / Author William Morrow & Company $22 (0p) ISBN

Everything about this painstakingly crafted but hollow novel smacks of the academy, from the slightly passe mix of popular and literary genres to the appropriation of easily recognized texts. Here we have Tintin, the comic-book hero created in 1929 by Belgian artist Herge, imagined anew and plunged into his coming-of-age in Peru. In this New World he meets the irresistible Clavdia Chauchat, Herr Peeperkorn and sundry others who, we're told, ``had passed a tonic winter together in the Alps''--code for having been conceived by Thomas Mann in The Magic Mountain. Tintin, hitherto frozen in boyhood, falls in love with Clavdia. The author's credentials are as immaculate as his studied prose--Tuten ( Tallien ) directs City College of New York's graduate program in literature and creative writing--and the publisher has further ensured the book's toniness with original cover art by Roy Lichtenstein, whom Herge particularly admired. But despite Tuten's obvious intelligence and concentrated focus, his novel never becomes more than a workshop exercise or literary game. Stick with Herge, or stick with Mann: this foray into metafiction lacks the aplomb of the former's work and the true originality of the latter's. (June)