LUNCH by Karen Moline


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A first novel about the strange, violent sexual games played by a Hollywood star, and about an artist who refuses to be his victim. Narrator M works for Nick Muncie, America's biggest action movie star. M's facial scars are a hideous reminder of Nick's secret past in abusive foster homes and brutal gangs of runaways. Today M is Nick's right arm and his procurer. He also likes to watch while Nick has perverse, often sadistic sex with various women, and Nick likes an audience. In London to film a movie about Faust, Nick is surveying restaurant patrons like ""a raptor seeking its prey"" when Olivia Morgan rushes in and sits at the next table. A portraitist who depicts people as they truly are, Olivia refuses to paint Nick. But her fiancÉ, a concert pianist on tour in the Orient, encourages her to seize the opportunity, and she finally agrees. During their sittings -- she paints Nick as the Minotaur, standing in a maze -- Olivia is drawn to the star's passion and hunger; she agrees to see him after the portrait is finished. M has set up a London hideaway, complete with video equipment behind two-way mirrors. Their lunchtime sexual encounters infuse Nick's acting and Olivia's painting with new life, and their trysts become more dangerous. Unlike Nick's other conquests, Olivia plays his game on her own terms, and he becomes increasingly addicted to the woman who has declared herself unhaveable. Ultimately, what happens between Nick and Olivia has nothing to do with the love she feels for her fiancÉ, and when the film is finished so is their affair. Nick and M choreograph one last savage farewell that almost destroys them all. Sometimes a mesmerizing read, but M is a frustratingly undefined narrator. The sexual obsession of Nick and Olivia also remains elusive and, finally, implausible.

Pub Date: Sept. 21st, 1994
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Morrow