ALBANY PARK: An Autobiography by Patrice Chaplin

ALBANY PARK: An Autobiography

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An autobiographical snippet of the teen years of British author and playwright Chaplin (who was married for a time to the son of Charlie Chaplin). Most of the book takes place in the mid-1950's, when Chaplin was 15. The book relates Chaplin's obsession with running--indeed her entire life seems to be a series of obsessions. Hitching across Spain, fleeing the boredom of Albany Park (the London suburb in which she grew up), she meets and becomes obsessed with a Spanish hotelier, Jose Tarres--aspiring poet, part gigolo, part homosexual, part political revolutionary, mostly a liar. Carrying obsession to its limit, Chaplin tells how she was sure that fate had dealt her a husband, and how Tarres fed this fantasy by assuring her that such would be the case--if she would just be patient. Well, patient was not the word for it--Chaplin returned again and again--each time she wasn't quite old enough for' the suave Tarres. Would he follow her to Paris? Of course, he promised, just give me a few days. Yet again, Chaplin returned to her dose of fantasy. All the while, Tarres was honorable, refusing to take advantage of Chaplin (except once, when she practically raped him in her room, only to have the maid come in to interrupt the festivities). As Chaplin ages, lunacy, rather than better sense, prevails. Years later, married, she wanders into the same town, bumps into Tarres again, and ends up leaving her husband (she never tells whether she married Tarres or if, indeed, he still exists). A strange autobiography of an interlude. Without the subtitle, one might suspect that this was a beat novella. The writing is simplistic and choppy, yet tinderlying it is a surging intensity that keeps the reader glued to the page. On the Road--European-style.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1987
Publisher: Viking