CONGLOMEROS by Jesse Browner


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Browner (whose translations include, most recently, CÉline: A Biography, p. 244) delivers a refreshingly comic and original first novel featuring the obsessive love of a well-to-do New Yorker for the mythical monster he corrupts. Young, rich, and bored with the aimlessness of his life since the death of his heiress wife, Aaron X wanders idly one day into the Museum of Modern Art in Paris to find himself transfixed by an unusual sculpture. The work, entitled Conglomeros, depicts a surreal-looking monster with three gracefully pubescent, humanlike torsos--two male and one female--connected at the neck to one doe-eyed, embryonic head. Captivated by this image, Aaron remembers suddenly that his grandfather once noted actually having seen such a creature in Romania's Carpathian Mountains. Aaron departs for Romania posthaste, soon finds the creature--still as trusting, immaculate, and irresistible as the artist had portrayed it--and smuggles it back to his rural New York estate. Aa Aaron soon discovers, however, the ageless Conglomeros exhibits a frightening zeal for the most regrettable aspects of modern life. Spurred on by such soul-destroyers as The New York Times and The Twilight Zone, the creature soon tires of its isolated existence and convinces Aaron to introduce it to New York. Within weeks after their move, the overstimulated monster, confined to a wheelchair in its disguise as a disabled old woman, has changed its name to ""Connie"" and run off with an East Village charlatan to head a religious cult. Aaron has learned his lesson--but too late: Innocence once lost is not easily recaptured--and all who have conspired in Connie's corruption must suffer in the end. Bits of Lolita, Frankenstein, and any number of child-care manuals float freely through this savory stew--a captivating modern-day satire by an entertaining new writer.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Random House