by Ian Adams ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 9, 1979
An espionage anecdote of the Quebec Liberation Front (supposedly based on a true story) -- stretched out to mini-novel length with the help of artsily shifting viewpoints, pretentious quotations (Jung, Sartre, Barthes), ponderous dialogues, and meditations on the ""mystique of the spook world."" An author (annoyingly called ""the Au."" throughout) is reconstructing the story of one Timothy Stern, an incredibly handsome, Vietnam-haunted Canadian photographer who one day is threatened in a cafe, apparently mistaken for a lookalike spy of the same name; and, after Stern vainly seeks help from the police, his car is blown up. ""Should he press on with the search to find this other Stem, his Doppelganger?"" He does so, of course, soon finding himself ""among people who used and manipulated intelligence information as a way of life"" (CIA agents, French-Canadian double agents) and learning that this other Tim Stern is a Mountie who once infiltrated the Quebec Liberation Front. And -- after mucho sex with a CIA stenographer-agent (""Together they fold into a spontaneous expanding aura of voluptuousness that covers their eyes, enters their mouths, envelops their bodies . . ."") -- he tracks this Doppelganger to Algiers and then Paris, where a bloody, unresolved conclusion awaits . . . If there is indeed a factual basis for this knot of crisscrossed spying (there are footnotes and a bibliography), Adams should have told it straight; here, with immense pretensions and incomparable awkwardness (""Latent imagery, lingering sexual shapes, shards of thoughts all emerge in their fragmentary state from Stem's tapes, which, in the eyes of the Au., have taken on the form of a magnetic palimpsest . . .""), it's a nearly unreadable clump of weighty confusion.
Pub Date: Nov. 9, 1979
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1979
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