THE OUROBOROS by Howard Coale

THE OUROBOROS

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Here's a story of erotic obsession that is also a textbook example of the first-novel-as-narrator's-attempt-at-self-definition. Harry is a 22-year-old American student who is attracted to a fellow-student called Kate. They are about to graduate from an unidentified campus somewhere in the US of A. Other things we don't know about these guys: their last names, majors, family and ethnic backgrounds. (Harry does let slip that his hometown is Baltimore.) They date for a while; then Kate leaves for Taiwan to study Chinese. Harry has this idea he'll go to New York and, like, get a job, but Asia is more appealing and airfare is no problem; while not exactly in love with Kate, Harry is intrigued by the idea of love ("My heart was ready to be launched on a holy crusade"). In Taipei (smoggy, copinfested), he finds Kate rooming with Frederick, a German studying sword dancing. (Westerners adrift in the East form the labored comic relief.) Harry and Kate become lovers (biggest omission of all: there's no sex here), but he is as ill-equipped for a relationship as he is for a career. He develops a thing about computers after reading about the Ouroboros, a supercomputer, which represents the order missing from his life ("maybe I could escape into the computer"). For Harry has become unreasonably, insanely jealous of an acquaintance of Kate's, Corporal Wu, and convinced himself that Wu is evil in carnate. As the scene shifts to Hong Kong and finally Nepal, Kate ditches Harry and fails for Wu; Harry pursues them up the Himalayas, hoping a duel will restore his honor, but looking all the time like a petulant fool. Remarkably silly. Harry should grow up and get a life.

Pub Date: Feb. 28th, 1990
ISBN: 89919-977-1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:




MORE BY HOWARD COALE