PAS DE DEUX by Oliver Lange

PAS DE DEUX

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A generally wry reworking of the familiar tale about the middle-aged professor and his undergraduate sex-kitten--with some arch, stylish titillation in the first half and some stagey, talky melodramatics in the second. Narrator Anderson Frye, a twice-divorced, overweight novelist in his mid-50s, has been persuaded to take over some creative writing classes at Onegin U. (""a small college located somewhere in the American Pacific northwest""). And among his worshipful students is tall, leggy, semi-naive Meredith Dockweiler. A teasing courtship ensues. The two become lovers. Meredith reveals her fondness for elaborate bedroom playlets--and Frye is certainly game, sharing Meredith's earnest dedication to theatrical conviction: ""After all, how does one otherwise lend verisimilitude and seriousness to such one-night productions as Tiahuana Stud (I did my best, but vitamin E isn't all they claim it to be) or Ten Nights in a Turkish Brothel. . . ?"" But, though Frye and Meredith get along quite well together (even sharing mutual confessions of past nervous breakdowns), something's not quite right--Frye's work is suffering, Meredith is secretive, never letting Frye see her apartment. Then: ""Like a mysterious Astarte my goddess was already leading me into a country that was sinister and frightening."" In other words, Meredith's playacting gets excessively creepy, especially when she insists that they both don antique masks and pretend to be 19th-century bedmates. (""Meredith, this sort of thing. . . it's unnatural."") And finally, after Frye accidentally sees Meredith with another man, there's a long confession/explanation scene--revealing the extent of Meredith's madness and deception. This denouement is a corny, hollow one, with the tone unsuccessfully shifting from drollery to psycho-soap. But the first half features a good bit of elegant erotica--plus some modestly engaging glimpses of Frye in the classroom, chatting with likable students or delivering tirades about the Writer's Life. And this is nothing if not a change of pace for versatile storyteller Lange--author of raw chillers like Red Snow and contemporary-Western character pieces like Next of Kin.

Pub Date: June 7th, 1982
Publisher: Seaview--dist. by Harper & Row