THE DREAM MISTRESS by Jenny Diski

THE DREAM MISTRESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

From the inventive, darkly acerbic, cunningly erotic Diski (Monkey’s Uncle, 1995; an acclaimed memoir, Skating to Antarctica, 1998; etc.) comes this story of the chance encounter of a mother and daughter, long apart, who pass mutually unrecognized but are nonetheless affected by what transpires. Mimi, having fallen asleep in a London cinema to the outrage of her lover (who takes the dozing—as intended—as a reflection on himself), walks out on the guy, only to come across a comatose bag lady by the theater’s rear exit. After an ambulance whisks the old girl away, Mimi goes home to bed, speculating on what has just happened while awaiting the death of her relationship, which occurs later that same night. Meanwhile, at the hospital, the bag lady, named Bella by the EMT’s, is being cleaned before treatment. Imagining, in her unconscious state, that she’s been stripped to her very organs, she searches for clues to her identity. She fancies she’s faceless, the victim of a terrorist’s bomb, but saved by a man who’s in love with her—because, without her face, he could imagine the face he always had loved. In truth, though, she’s Mimi’s mother, Leah, who, abandoned by her husband, in turn abandoned her child. Converting from Judaism to Catholicism, becoming a nun even while remaining an atheist, Leah had to give it up when her aloofness proved untenable. So she plummeted into life as a welfare case, was dismissed as half-mad—but finally (and miraculously) seemed to heal a neighbor’s dying child, then took to the streets in shock. After many years, a coincidental meeting with that child, now an addict who’s half mad himself, brought her to the state in which Mimi discovered her. An elaborate tale, finding humor in the odd corners created when what’s real and what isn’t converge: a story that both disturbs and delights.

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 1999
ISBN: 0-88001-611-6
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1998




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