WOMEN by Philippe Sollers


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Editor of the avant-garde French review L'infini, Sollers (Paradis, Le Parc--not reviewed) writes a relatively predictable postmodern novel called Women about an editor of an avant-garde French review writing a relatively predictable postmodern novel called Women that will be published under the name of his literary friend who apparently is none other than, well, Philippe Sollers. Will, the fictional editor, is an amoral, disorganized, misogynistic, and often paranoid Don Juan who rambles in breathless dot-and-dash prose at the speed of light about his erotospiritual history and deep impression that women control the world. His fireball monologue conjures up women from his past and present, often through their favorite coital positions: Diane, the bisexual nyphomaniac drug addict; Flora, the committed Spanish anarchist with enticing underwear and vague links to WOMANN (World Organization for Male Annihilation and New Natality); Deb, Will's nagging wife who loves popular films, details over abstractions, and, worst, novels with plots; and so on. Each finds herself caught up in the jet-set intelligentsia whose members suffer from ever-changing time zones and cerebral penis envy, and in Will's bawdy iconoclastic exploration of mid-80's culture from Bukowski to the Pope, the World Trade Center to Nobel babies, Paris to London to New York to Jerusalem and back again. Both Will's and Sollers's books remind the reader that fiction is desire and desire is a fiction. Both rattle the foundation of feminist discourse, shaking it into a series of questions rather than answers. A best-seller in France that's often comic and always disconcerting--but that's never as new as it wants to be. Besides the fact that the reader never for a minute believes that Will and his wife are supposed to be from the southern US, the novel's blatant self-reflexivity, hyperliterary name-dropping, and relentless plotlessness seem dated by now. Antiseptically intellectual, this one smells of the classroom.

ISBN: 231-06546-9
Publisher: Columbia Univ.
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