Heavy memoir by British novelist/journalist Hudson (Where the Rainbow Ends, 1987, etc.), who goes looking for his younger self that once fleetingly found Paradise in California. Hudson was an established literary journalist in London when in 1976, at age 30, he visited the US on a Harkness Fellowship, ``researching concepts of Paradise in Western thought.'' He asked his mentors at the University of Chicago for an Edenic campus and was directed to the University of California at Santa Cruz (one wonders where they sent students of Hell). Hudson found UCSC congenial, but Paradise itself lay off campus at Topside, an enchanted house in the hills where the author cast aside his English reserve to experience the joys of communal living, nature, and true love. Fifteen years later, he returned to California on a quest for ``C.'' (the initial is his distancing technique) and his former housemates. The result is this memoir, which moves back and forth in time and incorporates chunks of the author's Paradise research. It's an awkward mix: Reflections on Dante and Milton are followed by banal tape-recorded comments of Hudson's former housemates (``I did that relationship stuff early''), most of whom have gravitated into marriages and mainstream America. Hudson discovers a darker side to his recollected Paradise (while he and his lover Laura trysted in the woods, murder victims lay nearby), as well as a C. ``motivated by a desperate unwillingness to let go of his youth.'' What the reader discovers is that, when push came to shove and the author's English girlfriend arrived on the scene, C. was willing enough to let go of Laura and complete his studies in Virginia. Long on pretentiousness (``Apollo had vanquished Dionysus'') and short on rigorous self-examination.
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