WHAT'S CALLED LOVE by Jim Paul

WHAT'S CALLED LOVE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The rambling story of how Paul (Catapult, 1991), 39, courted a 26-year-old gamine. Paul is a gifted stylist, lilting and sensitive, and here he has the makings of a possibly fascinating story--a romance in which reality beggars fiction. He opens in Paris, where he has taken his love, identified only as ``L.,'' to do...what? Apparently, to make her love him as much as he loves her. The two are already ``going together'' back home and have slept together, but we don't learn that Paul has marriage in mind until we're so far into his hazy tale that we can no longer summon up the sympathy to care about his quest. Using his and L.'s month-long trip to Paris and beyond as his springboard, Paul side-dives into chapter-long descriptions of other, historical passions: Petrarch's worship of Laura; Stendhal's lifelong quest for love (beautifully handled); and the ecstasies of the Song of Songs- -whose history is represented in confusing, oft-repeated snippets. These digressions are interwoven with descriptions of the couple's typically touristlike pursuits: attending the opera, eating and drinking, shopping for clothes, swimming in the Mediterranean, etc. But it doesn't help that Paul makes it difficult to bring himself and L. into sharp focus: He describes himself variously as an artist, writer, camp counselor, and teacher, while L.'s job in life seems to be self-maintenance as a modern-day and mysterious Laura. A raggedly sewn patchwork from a skilled writer who, for the moment, seems to be running out of things to say. (Line drawings.)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-42503-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Villard
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1993




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