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STEPS by Jerzy Kosinski


by Jerzy Kosinski

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1968
ISBN: 0802135269
Publisher: Random House

What Jerzy Kosinski was saying, and portraying, in The Painted Bird (1965), his semi-autobiographical account of a six year old boy evading the Nazis across the Polish countryside, was agonizingly apparent. Steps however falter -- you are never quite sure of his intentions nor is the publisher's "a self freed for pure violence and absolute sexuality" particularly solidifying. Violence, a blinding violence, stains the pages: a defenseless girl is sexually used by an entire village -- communal rape occurs at least three times including that of a woman kept in a cage in a barn for just that purpose. "Absolute sexuality" is also achieved in one encounter after another. In various guises, the first person narrator appears in an equally inchoate fashion: he's an archaeologist on an island assaulted by predatory women; a skiing instructor hastening the death of a tubercular patient he makes love to; he is a lecturer in a Party commune and the willing victim of a trapeze artist; he attends a banquet where Party officers are all decorated -- with condoms in gold foil; etc. etc. Traveling on and on through memory "broken and uneven" this has much in common with the experimental new fiction -- it is discontinuous, startling, elusive; but is also fails, once again, to impose -- not so much order -- as substance on what is essentially a slipstream of sensation and movement.