Email this review


When Columbia U. bookstore manager Victor Grant is deserted by his newly-liberated wife Samantha in 1974 (""How can I be Mrs. Grant and have an identity of my own?""), he blames Jude Karnofsky--a feminist gorgon-guru who has just left her husband (Victor's best friend), taking away their small son. So Victor decides to go into training and murder Jude--which he does, stalking her at a feminist convention and asphyxiating her by cramming fruit down her throat (""I rammed, crammed, jammed in a nectarine, a tangerine, a pear. . .""). Then, after hiding out at his estranged father's upstate ranch, he returns to kill again; this time it's gross lesbian Stevie Dickinson, managing editor of Ms. Chief magazine, who's about to set up house with Samantha; Stevie attempts to divert Victor with oral sex and near-castration, but he wallops her with a live cat and stabs her to death. And, after finding friend Bill ice-picked and then provoking the cutthroat suicide of Pastor Peter Brevoort of the First Church of Christ, Androgynous, Victor finally winds up in a spear-vs.-knife duel with Erika von Plaack, ""America's most conspicuous feminist."" Could some bold, zesty writer have made sprightly black comedy out of this heavyhanded, pathetically dated material? Perhaps. Stade, however, belabors it unto nearly 400 pages, burying a handful of okay chuckles in a flood of mannered self-indulgence: Victor's thoughts on food, clothes, Puerto Rican mistress Brunhilda, his bowel movements, his sex fantasies, plus show-offy literary allusions and cutesy asides to Dear Reader: ""You are snorting with impatience, are you? You think these details are trivial, do you? I should think that it was up to me to decide whether or not my erections are trivial details. You decide about your erections, assuming you have them."" Tries hard to be outrageously Rabelaisian; manages only to be interminably sophomoric.

Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1979
Publisher: Norton