A debut tries, somewhat desperately, to put spirituality and love back into the modern romance story.
You’re Carter Cox, the 39-year-old photographer protagonist of a second-person love story. You have affairs with beautiful models on a regular basis, but life just isn’t satisfying. Not even your Buddhism is helping. “So what is Buddhism exactly?” you think. “You often wonder about this when you sit down to meditate back home.” Then you meet Mia, who thinks you look like Jeff Bridges. Mia studies Art History in Texas, in addition to Buddhism. You’re captivated by her. “My Buddha statue holds your flower,” you write her. She plays hard to get—really, hardest to get, because she’s a true virgin. You try to reconcile arousal with Om Mani Padme Hung. But don’t worry, Mia will agree to an innocent romance—not quite before you buckle and purchase those porn DVDs, but before you slip them into the hard drive. The romance that follows won’t run smooth, as you’re still caught up in that decadent nonspiritual of sex with supermodels, sometimes with more than two people present. But Mia is so tempting, and isn’t your refusal to shoot for Playboy an indication that you really long for something pure? Perhaps taking Mia to Marrakesh will reveal whether the two of you are soulmates who can live up to the meaning of “full-sexual penetration.” In contrast to Bright Lights, Big City, where the second person was a stand-in for indictment and shame, the device here seems intended solely to make you think you care more than you probably do for this Colin Harrison prose dressed up for Easter Sunday. Casablanca has mischief and suspense for our clean lovers, but is it enough for you to give in and pop the question after all these dirty years?
Wanting it both ways: lots of pulpy sex embedded in a tale that eventually turns and tries to paint itself as moral vision.”