Yet another unworldly intellectual goes off the deep-end with obsession for a mysterious girl who won’t return his affections but also just won’t get out of his life completely.
As far as university professors go, Jeremy Davenant is not the pick of the litter. A transplant to Montreal from a ruined English family, he was raised mostly by an eccentric Uncle Gerard, who once blindfolded Jeremy and had him find a book in Gerard’s library and tear out a page at random. Referred to afterward as “The Page,” this document (an S page from an encyclopedia) is supposed to chart out Jeremy’s entire life. For day-to-day affairs, it’s little help, of course, and by the time we’re introduced to Jeremy he’s teaching Shakespeare at a Montreal university—with forged credentials. Having just broken up with his girlfriend for no good reason, he’s also moved to the kind of bombed-out neighborhood where dreams of gentrification are far away and few. Not only that, but Jeremy chose the apartment building mainly for its proximity to the abode of a raven-haired beauty named Milena, who once sat next to him in a movie theater and has been an obsession for him ever since. Even though his extravagantly Oscar Wilde–esque friend Jacques has tried to warn Jeremy off his pursuit of the sullen, moody, and quite possibly gay Milena, Jeremy shambles on. Moore is best at detailing his hero’s haphazard woo-ing and generally sad-sack life. But whenever the story leaves the well-trodden streets of Montreal—described by Moore with an easy familiarity—or academe, it finds itself on less solid ground. Jeremy’s relationship with Gerard, especially everything regarding The Page, takes up far too much of the book’s already somewhat-too-many four hundred pages.
Still, in certain of its ways, a charming tale about a loser in love.