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An elegant, nostalgic tone poem to adolescent perversity in Paris in 1968. Adair (Hollywood's Vietnam, Alice Through the Needle's Eye) writes sensuously and delicately of incestuous twins who lure a young American into a life of playacting and fluid sexual identity. Guillaume and Danielle, the twins, along with Mathew, the American, are devotees--or ""rats""--of the Cin‚matheque Francaise. Mathew, polymorphously perverse, loves the twins as though they were one person. (He masturbates to male fantasies, but conjures up a female face at the end.) The three of them talk shop (cinema) and bring sandwiches to screenings; when the cinema is closed, demonstrators storm the place to no avail--and Mathew goes home with the twins for a dinner with their poet father. Eventually, then, Mathew voyeuristically discovers the twins' secret world--and the twins, addicted to ""the cinema and each other,"" move Mathew in when their father goes off with his wife to write more poems. The twins also bring Mathew into their secret circle: Guillaume masturbates for his sister and Mathew; then Danielle and Mathew make love while Guillaume watches. They playact with whips and makeup, and--after a brief excursion with Rollo, an Argentinean--they return to empty cupboards and more sexual games. Guillaume, jealous of Mathew, sodomizes him, while the household finds in Mathew its ""crypto-Oedipal identity"": he becomes the ""externalized object"" of their fantasies until the Paris riots--and death--interrupt. Rather outr‚, but British poet/critic Adair's first novel nevertheless lives up to its title, mostly avoiding the obvious pitfalls of sentimentality and bad taste.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1989
Publisher: Dutton