VENUS BLUE by Gustaf Sobin


Email this review


A Forties screenwriter--the rich and childless and elegant and ever-so-literary Millicent Rappaport--becomes obsessed with a shadowy film star, Molly Lamanna, and keeps a journal of her obsession. After Millicent's death, a Tucson memorabilia collector named Hollander works on uncovering the braided trails both of Millicent's journal and of Molly's highly mythical and secretive life. The quest involves some danger too, for Millicent's will named a mysterious Latino man as her legatee, and the rapacious law firm that now administers the estate seemingly will go to any length to have this mysterious man out of the picture. This is a novel (poet Sobin's first) of hints, shadows, false leads, and fetishes. Bathed in retro light and mock-eroticism (think Toby Olson, think lesser John Hawkes), the book is disabled quickly, though, by the sameness of weight of its overstuffed, unbearably eloquent language: ""I'd go on lying there in bed, half asleep, still hoping somehow to find her beneath the heavy, troughed quilting of some sustained dream, rather than plucked, as she was, abducted--her own exquisite captive--into those thin, ever-thinning altitudes that by the hour, certainly, she'd already attained."" Whether it's the narrator's or the diary's or the dialogue's, the style is a leadenly one. No human person is credible--only Sobin's vocabulary and stuffy rhetoric.

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 1992
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: "Little, Brown"