LOVES THAT BIND by Julián Ríos

LOVES THAT BIND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The imperturbably exuberant third building block in Rios’s post-Joycean postmodernist sequence (Larva: Midsummer Night’s Babel,1990, not reviewed; Poundemonium, 1997). These are pun-and-games fictions redolent of the German experimentalist Arno Schmidt, as well as of the aforementioned Joyce, from whose Ulysses R°os has now taken a page, as it were, in a work that both parodies and pays homage to classic modern literary portrayals of beloved and memorable women. Here’s how it works: R°os’s narrator Emil, a Spaniard alone in London with his overheated imagination, addresses to his former mistress (who has dumped him) a series of musings in which he fantasizes relationships with literary heroines whose names begin with the 26 letters of the alphabet (—A— is Proust’s Albertine, —D— is Fitzgerald’s--and Gatsby’s--Daisy Buchanan, —P— is Pocahontas, and so on). Successive chapters are linked by common characters and regurgitated thoughts and passions, as R°os offers concise reimaginings of, for example, Ford Maddox Ford’s The Good Soldier and Djuna Barnes’s Nightwood and rhapsodizes over such paramours as the virgin who tamed Don Juan, D.H. Lawrence’s redoubtable Ursula Brangwen (of The Rainbow and Women in Love), and--inevitably--Nabokov’s Lolita (“Elle! you might have explained in French, and I, an L is an L”). It’s almost as enjoyable trying to guess who R°os’s transfigured females are as it is to wallow in the spectacular verbal inventions here (the poet Rimbaudelaire; the pleasures of indulging in “Whiskey and sodamasochism”; the characterization of one who masturbates in front of his dead mother as “Necrofilial”). Grossman probably deserves some sort of medal for having translated this blissful nonsense with such obviously appreciative precision and brio. Then again, why should she have all the fun? Loves That Bind (its very title an irresistibly rude pun) is a hoot, and perfectly accessible to anybody who’s ever read a book or been, even fleetingly, a fool for love. Enjoy.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-375-40058-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1998