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Comparing this sorry little novel to Nabokov's Lolita (as the publisher's blurb shamelessly does) is like comparing Gilligan's Island to Gulliver's Travels. ""Jasper Evian""--the narrator as well as the (understandably) pseudonymous author--is, aside from the superficial basic hangup, no Humbert Humbert. He's a 32-year-old N.Y. dialogue writer for porno films (""I wanted to make pornography because I wanted to tell the truth"") currently suffering because his remarried ex-wife Perky (so nicknamed for her orgasms, which are like brewing coffee that ""gurgles and bubbles"") is planning to move to Montauk, with her rock-star husband and six-year-old daughter Ara; Jasper won't be able to have fun with Ara anymore--like taking her to porn-movie parties. But then Jasper meets beautiful, totally unlifelike Stephanie, eleven-year-old daughter of his latest shack-up Deborah (""I fucked this one and I fucked that one""). Stephanie, you see, is incredibly honest and deep and understanding, immediately accepting Jasper's semi-lustful attentions: ""She was revealing what she was in flesh. . . I was so afraid. And so alive."" So they commune together but postpone sex, as author Evian holds out the will-they-or-won't-they tease: ""What could I do that would prolong the pleasure we were both obviously beginning to take with one another and not transgress upon her cherishable soul or damn my own?"" And finally, after a visit to his Massachusetts parents with Stephanie (and after some discussion about whether or not Stephanie is just a substitute for Ara), Jason returns his pre-teen near-mistress to her father. . . and kidnaps his own little girl: ""It didn't matter that our flesh was private and discrete. She was written in my being."" Some sort of accomplishment: a small book that manages to be arch, smutty, grossly sentimental, and drearily pretentious all at once. Otherwise--negligible.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1980
Publisher: Macmillan