Kirkus Reviews QR Code
BLIND DATE by Jerzy Kosinski Kirkus Star

BLIND DATE

By Jerzy Kosinski

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1977
ISBN: 0802135544
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Once more, with horror, as another Kosinski-an, foreign-born American--George Levanter of "Investors International"--goes out on a taut, unconnected series of international "blind dates" with violence and debasement. We first meet a mysteriously sweet George at a Swiss resort, where he blows up the ski gondola occupied by an evil monarch's ruthless henchmen. This, perhaps, is "execution of justice" rather than crime, but when Levanter begins to reminisce--longterm incest with dear departed Mama, successful teen-age rape (and unsuccessful attempts to confess)--the morality of each bruising incident is buried in the dizzying accumulation of blind nature's unjust assaults. Whether Levanter is victim (blackmailed by corrupt cops in a Southern company town) or avenger (shishkebabing a Communist spy in a homosexual bathhouse) or voyeur (meeting a legless, baby-sized woman who hitchhikes), he is "removed from the act." That goes for the sexual act too, of course, with a fresh-from-the-operating-table transsexual or the perpetually aroused wearer of a "grope suit" or the true love/rich widow who dies of cancer. Because Kosinski is a master of secret-keeping and a master of enticingly neutral prose--never ironic, never flushed, never crude--he can guide us into dark places we'd otherwise avoid and elicit shudders we'd otherwise suppress in advance. Even the Sharon Tate murders reclaim their original horror: Levanter is the lucky houseguest who didn't show up. And the minor clashes, like the gratuitous humiliation of a Chinese laundryman, are almost as shocking as the flashes of freakdom, whoredom, and political terror. The bottom-line Kosinski question remains: notwithstanding his philosophical drift (Levanter's realperson acquaintances include Jacques Monod, believer in Life = Genetics + Chance), is this National Book Award winner really only a high-class pornographer, retailing an inventory of human abuse? Perhaps. But this latest inventory is quick to take hold and hard to shake off.