Harris, a pseudonym for novelist Donald Heiney, weaves a magical web of words in his narrative of mysticism, séances and a dirigible named The League of Nations.
At the core of the novel is the exotic Moira, who casts a metaphorical spell over her entourage by connecting them to the Astral Plane and “the mysteries of the invisible.” Two who come under this spell are Romer, who’s recently completed a doctorate in philosophy by writing his dissertation on angels, and Eliza. The novel opens with a vivid scene of Romer’s priapic indulgence with Eliza as he chases her across a sylvan landscape—well, sylvan except for the wasp stings they get in intimate places. This encounter leads to a flashback to their initial meeting, under the wing of Moira and her attendants. In fact, Harris’ narrative technique largely involves introducing characters (for example, Georg von Plautus, captain of The League of Nations) and then taking us back to the time when they first came under Moira’s sway. And what a cast of characters they are, ranging from the eternally hovering (no pun intended) Madge Foxthorn to Joan Esterel, whose sexuality is polymorphous since “she felt herself capable of copulating with a dog, a cloud, a zebra, with the idea of God.” The novel could be loosely defined as a quest novel, and the object of the quest of these members of the “Guild of Love” is the Land of Gioconda, the idealized realm where the Astral Body is transfigured. Unfortunately, the zeppelin gets derailed, as it were, over Antarctica.
The action is inspired and written in undeniably gorgeous prose.