Categorized by its publisher as ""Fiction, Erotica,"" here's a small British morsel in the love-and-cooking genre from the...



Categorized by its publisher as ""Fiction, Erotica,"" here's a small British morsel in the love-and-cooking genre from the pseudonymous Angelica J., about whom nothing is revealed except that she (it seems) ""was born in 1963 and works in publishing."" The young woman Odissa (no last name) meets the traveling fire-eater Serge (no last name) in the French town of Cauterets. Soon after Serge's departure, Odissa receives a blank postcard and travels to the city (unnamed) of its postmark, where she spends 17 days hunting for Serge. Lovemaking ensues, along with some very rough treatment by Serge having to do with his wish to teach Odissa the art of fire-eating and her understandable desire not to--after all, she's already jealous of Serge's other love-mate, Justine, who travels with him in performance and whose face is hideously fire-scarred. Odissa, unsurprisingly, becomes pregnant, and, also unsurprisingly, Serge departs for a long time on his travels. More surprising, perhaps, is that Odissas's pregnancy-craving is for cheese, and that the chapters she narrates as her pregnancy advances are each pressed into association with one type of it or another--Brie, Roquefort, etc.--and thereby the trope develops that just as cheese ferments in the making, so a baby does in the gestating. One dream per chapter also occurs (Serge warned that cheese before bed would bring bad dreams), constituting much of the erotica part of the undertaking. One dream involves forcible submission in a pool of spilled milk, another a simultaneous rape and throat-cutting, yet another a carnival event consisting of a wall with holes in it through which male customers extend their pertinent parts. Symbols galore (fire, drought, rain, childbirth) can't transform this small, two-dimensional, and rather self-conscious tale into something beyond itself; nor does an existentially affectless tone--Kosinski comes to mind--succeed in doing much beyond achieving its opposite, the portentous and affected.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997


Page Count: 144

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997