CYRUS CYRUS by Adam Zameenzad


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This sprawling, phantasmagoric novel about the international journeys in the 70's and 80's of an alleged murderer with a mystical bent is as ambitious as The Satanic Verses, but Zameenzad (The 13th House) sacrifices narrative promise to flights of vague, murky mythmaking. The book, filled with the imagery of defecation and copulation, is purportedly the manuscript of Cyrus Cyrus, a man accused of murdering three children, two of them his own. When he disappears mysteriously from his prison cell, he leaves behind his autobiography, and we are the doubtful recipients of its contents. Born in 1954 after his mother is raped by a police chief, Cyrus is a choodah, or Indian outcast, who is given to visions and philosophizing: "Am I doing time, or is time doing me?" "The past is another place, not another time." His ensuing narrative is part erotic diary, part mystical excursion, and part world travelogue. After the violent death of his family in the civil war of the early 1970's, a series of picaresque adventures brings Cyrus to New Mexico and membership in a free-sex ashram (which is effectively satirized, though at this late date it's an easy target). From there, he passes through New York and Los Angeles on his way to London, where he has various amorous adventures, resulting in a son, Jason, by one woman and in a daughter by another. After long passages of murky black magic and cabalistic rituals (all part and parcel of Cyrus's psychic jourheys), the story climaxes when Jason, by now an addict and mentally ill, poisons everyone at a reunion. Cyrus survives, then sweeps downward to Hades and an underworld journey before disappearing from prison, possibly to be resurrected. While this occasionally brings Fuentes or Rushdie to mind, it never manages to cohere long enough before galloping off into self-indulgent symbolism. More interesting for its promise than its achievement.

ISBN: 670-83223-5
Publisher: Viking
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