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THE PASSION OF NEW EVE by Angela Carter Kirkus Star



Pub Date: June 2nd, 1977
ISBN: 0860683419
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

If we must have futuristic fantasies of feminism's nth degrees, let them come from the darting, lyrical pen of Angela Carter, mistress of the erotic picaresque. And let the hero be as engaging as Evelyn, the carefree Englishman who comes to a New York of rats and tanks and the Harlem Wall and makes a chauvinistic pig of himself with Leilah--the black stripper he impregnates and deserts. ""Let the punishment fit the crime,"" and Evelyn's punishment--after he's abducted by the followers of Mama (""The Grand Emasculator"") while driving crosscountry--is to be surgically renamed Eve: ""They had turned me into the Playboy centre fold."" Being in ""the most ludicrous mess in the world,"" Eve escapes, only to be captured by one-legged, one-eyed, pig-worshipping, paranoid poet Zeno, who rapes her and installs her as his eighth wife. Zeno's great mission is to annihilate the person he believes is responsible for his sterility, faded filmstar Tristessa St. Ange (who happens to have been Evelyn's all-time fantasy sex-object), and, when Zeno's tribe Mansonesquely attacks Tristessa's palace, more sex reversals are revealed, allowing Tristessa and Eve to emerge from the carnage as husband and wife. Tragedy awaits back on the road, however, via the Children's Crusade, and Evelyn/Eve finishes his/her American odyssey adrift and alone and pregnant and knowing that ""the vengeance of the sex is love."" Carter's surreal parable transcends polemics and skirts silliness--thanks to its urgent, no-nonsense wordings and those tides of authentic feeling pushing up against the lurid tableaux. Yes, if we must have sex-confusion mythmaking and can't have another Orlando, let's by all means have The Passion of New Eve.