DON JUAN IN THE VILLAGE by Jane DeLynn

DON JUAN IN THE VILLAGE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

DeLynn, acclaimed for engaging and satiric novels (Real Estate, 1988; In Thrall, 1982: Some Do, 1978), takes a sardonic, analytical stance in these episodes from the life of a sexual and social outsider, a lesbian who sometimes casts herself as a Don Juan. In the acid tones of an angst-burdened memorist, the narrator looks retrospectively at a time when ""people like us had gotten over the initial excitement of beginning to talk about ourselves and our condition"" but still expected some security in group identity. A jaded innocent, always preoccupied with how she appears to others, this speaker seeks an elusive sense of belonging in lesbian bars and foreign cities; her seemingly clinical analysis of motivation often proves to be self-delusion. While other women characters experiment with sexual life-styles--a famous actress goes slumming; a nice Jewish housewife briefly becomes L.A.'s most famous dominatrix--the narrator herself has no such freedom, burdened by the neurotic constants of her personality and caught up in ""the incredible vanity of my self-love and self-hate."" The novel's mix of cerebral prose, existential anguish, and graphic depictions of ""special tastes"" in sexual encounters is closer to the French literary tradition than the American. DeLynn ignores current conventions in depicting sexuality--certainly lesbian sexuality--in US fiction, while her portrayal of a personality tom between extremes of self-aggrandizement and low self-esteem cuts across all categories of erotic preference. Cold, deceptively simple but significant.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1990
Publisher: Pantheon