PANIC BLOOD by Catherine Texier

PANIC BLOOD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The French-born author of Love Me Tender (1987) brings some native existentialism to this sexually frank tale of a torch singer living in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen. Sort of Henry Miller in reverse (a Frenchman in New York), and in drag, Texier wallows in the low-life decadence of New York, where fear is as palpable (and as gooey) as the bodily fluids oozing throughout these disjointed pages. When Eva Marquand isn't singing at Angel's Follies, she's taking calls at her apartment in a Times Square hotel, where she services men aurally as phone-sexpert Lola. It's the perfect sideline for someone who craves anonymity, fears AIDS, and wants to escape her past--here represented by her French grandmother's senile soliloquies, which punctuate the narrative. Unsafe sex has had its consequences--a daughter named Mimi, for instance, who boards with an aging, alcoholic seamstress, herself a French ÉmigrÉ living nearby, who seems to provide a rather imperfect model for Eva. When said Albertine's past pursues her--her own abandoned daughter writes to her from abroad--she ignores it. But when Eva's past catches up with her, there are frightening results. There's no avoiding Frank Jackson, Mimi's father in a strictly biological sense, a mulatto musician who split while Eva was pregnant, only to return now that Mimi's almost six years old. Frank's reappearance in the Apple not only sours Eva's steady relationship with Johnny, another moody musician whose faithfulness results mainly from fear of AIDS; but it also brings Eva's anxiety to a head. When Eva denies Frank access to Mimi, he kidnaps the girl and drags her cross-country, though he proves a suddenly responsible father. Meanwhile, a madman has penetrated Eva's cover as Lola, stalking her lobby, and hanging out at the club; he also turns out to be the HIV-positive Times Square rapist who haunts the headlines quoted throughout the novel. Interspersed here are other news accounts of insane violence and random grotesqueries, all in support of the aesthetic notion of ""looking at the shit without flinching."" The little that happens is base melodrama, the rest an amalgam of talking dirty and absurd sexual politics.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1990
Publisher: Viking