cover image The Brothel in Rosenstrasse

The Brothel in Rosenstrasse

Michael Moorcock. Carroll & Graf Publishers, $15.95 (191pp) ISBN 978-0-88184-333-0

Moving at a stately pace, this accomplished novel is as much a work of historical research as of imagination. It is set in the never-never land of fin de siecle Mirenburg, the ""most beautiful of cities,'' filled with architectural masterpieces, where a doomed aristocracy slated for extinction enacts its decadent last days. A dying old man remembers his vibrant youth as a poet and dilettante, made unforgettable by the ravishingly lovely 16-year-old Alexandra. He inducts her into the special society of the elite brothel, where rich voluptuaries of both sexes meet in an atmosphere composed of hothouse flowers, superb foods, candied violets and wines, heightened by absinthe and intensified by cocaine, morphine and delights of the flesh. In the near future looms cataclysmic war, which will destroy these people and their pleasures. British writer Moorcock, (Byzantium Endures has accomplished a tour de force in evoking, in mythical terms, the dying Austrian Empire. If the portrait is rather precious, so was the society it depicts. (July 8)