A strange and lugubrious fifth novel by the Canadian Gilmour (How Boys See Girls, 1991, etc.), who offers an excruciating insight into the tormented psyche of a lonely older man.
Darius Halloway is a professor of French literature in Toronto. Even by the standards of his profession, he is a dull fellow: pedantic, self-obsessed, and astonishingly sheltered from the realities of life in the world. Originally a student of English, Halloway switched to French while still an undergraduate in order to spend a year in Toulouse and escape from the memory of his first bad love affair. There were plenty more to come. Perhaps the cruelest blow came from Emma Carpenter, a much younger women who took up with Halloway for some reason and moved into his apartment. Foul-mouthed and promiscuous, Emma spoke quite intimately and casually of her former lovers and refused to marry Halloway. Finally, she packed up and left, to no one’s surprise but his, and he found himself more and more distraught as each day passed without her. He tried all the usual distractions to forget his misery—but to no avail. He seduced perfect strangers, but they inevitably made him feel worse. He drank a great deal. He poisoned his neighbors’ dogs. He traveled to the Caribbean. Soon, he found himself visiting sleazy massage parlors in dodgy parts of town. He became particularly attached to one masseuse named Passion, who eventually came to see him at home and burgled his house. When he threatened to report her to the police, her pimp beat him up. When the pimp came to pay him a second call, Halloway shot him to death and burned his corpse in the furnace. Then he fell in love with someone else, married her, and . . . .
Pointless, aimless, joyless, fruitless, and flavorless.