THE MONKEY'S MASK by Dorothy Porter


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Australian poet/YA author Porter's first adult novel has a twist you won't soon forget: It unfolds entirely in poetry, from the moment lesbian Sydney p.i. Jill Fitzpatrick is hired to find missing university student Mickey Norris to the moment Jill realizes how Mickey died. Put off by the idea of crime in verse? Don't be. This doesn't require the heavy investment of The Ring and the Book: The cast--revolving mostly around Mickey's seductive poetry tutor, Diane Maitland, and the two male poets Mickey adored--is smaller and sparer, though in its own way equally intense; and the verse--variations on short, unrhymed couplets and singlets likely to remind American readers of Sylvia Plath--whether steamy or coolly appraising, is perfectly accessible. What's most interesting, of course, is what gets left out of the individual poems--almost all the accidents of color and manner and high-fiber description--reducing each scene to a few snatches of lapidary dialogue and the susurrus of Jill's reflections. Of course the story is simpler than in Ross Macdonald, but Porter manages a deft balance between nervously lyrical moments and an insinuating forward movement.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1995
ISBN: 1852425490
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Arcade