GUEST OF A SINNER by James Wilcox


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 Wilcox's sixth novel recaptures the antic spirit of his earlier work, after the surprisingly inert Polite Sex (1991); his latest is a convivial romp through contemporary Manhattan--a comedy of errors with all sorts of sexual quandaries, not a few downright crazy characters, and a spiritual dimension to top it all off. The struggle between faith and apostasy weighs heavily on most of Wilcox's hapless modern Catholics. And New York City is quite the proving ground for Eric Thorsen, a breathtakingly handsome pianist in his 40s, ``dogged by perpetual anxiety.'' Among Eric's worries are: his failure to achieve success as a musician; his work teaching music in a settlement house; his totally screwy sex-life (for a long time he dated a nun); and his family's unreasonable expectations for him. His older sister, Kaye, a widowed Macy's employee, dates a creepy married man and entertains some not-so- repressed incestual desire for her brother. Meanwhile, Eric blames their father, a gruff and pushy retired sports-trainer, for their beautiful and elegant mother's death in a car wreck. Into Eric's semi-cloistered, self-absorbed life intrudes Wanda Skopinski--a mousy clerk who lives in the East Village, and who lusts for Eric from the moment she sees him in church. While she insinuates herself into his life (and as they eventually discover his secret sexual longings), she's pursued by the stocky accountant Arnold Murtaugh, an ex-priest who talks like a longshoreman and teases her about her faith. An elaborate game of musical apartments ensues, and the final couplings are to the happiness of all, but not until after lots of meddling in each other's lives, miscommunications, and pure coincidence. There are a few lumpy digressions on Catholicism here. But at its best, there's a Waugh-like breeziness to this delightful novel with its genial view of human frailty and its overwhelming patience with things absurd.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-016875-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1993


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