FLIEGELMAN'S DESIRE by Lewis Buzbee

FLIEGELMAN'S DESIRE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A stately, moving first novel about a disoriented man who quits his office job to search for ""his desire."" Fliegelman works a 9-to-5 job, but his mind is always on ""his desire""--one woman or another. ""Why do you follow me?"" one of his desires asks him in a cafÉ. ""You're the one I'm supposed to want, aren't you?"" Fliegelman answers to the unnamed woman. At work, he stays alone in his office, ""this secret planet""--while, out. side, he ""avoid[s] the day by sticking to the western walls, his head tilted to the cracked pavement."" Meanwhile, the city plays the part of the ""other"" as much as do the women or loving couples he innocently stalks--the book's tone and its seriousness of purpose have more in common with 20th-century Eastern European fiction than with contemporary urban novels, at least until Fliegelman gets a job at a bookstore and meets Mimi Surbain. Once his desire has a name and a face, there's a falling-off in tone, though the pace picks up: alienated Everyman becomes in-love Fliegelman, ""always at some point of desire when he saw her. . ."" They finally become lovers, but Mimi is married to Nion LeClair, a mobster/entrepreneur who has filmed the tryst. ""We will ruin you,"" he tells Fliegelman, and then proceeds to give him a million dollars so that he (LeClair) can sue the adulterer, thereby making the papers and promoting his high-security cameras. After the ""LeClair Affair,"" Fliegelman lives in ""the city of heartbreak"" and watches the city from Mimi's now-empty apartment. The latter sections here tend to be a little plot-ridden, but, still, Buzbee's impressive new voice does something besides toot its own horn: it offers an update on a classic urban vision.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1990
ISBN: 0595090133
Publisher: Available/Ballantine