SLOW BURN by Sabina Murray


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Murray's short first novel takes an unenlightening look at decadent youth in Manila. Where on earth besides Bret Easton Ellis' California can privileged young people court self-destruction while seeking to Fill their hollow lives with novelty and sensation? Murray apparently thinks the answer is the Philippines. Isobel della Fortuna stays out all night drinking; she is cruel to unattractive women; she sometimes wakes up in hotel-rooms with men, but nothing eases the boredom of her life. Men find her amusing-presumably for her easy sexuality and such daring antics as wearing inappropriate clothes to a baptism and throwing a drink at someone else's boyfriend. (Her repartee, which draws-admiration, is less than inspired.) Meanwhile, Isobel's best friend Jorge leaves his wife and baby at home when he goes out partying; he often serves as Isobel's go-between, especially in her attempts to win Paulo Aguilar, who, like most of these characters, suffers from ""a fascination with what other people have."" Paulo goes through with his intended marriage to aristocratic Antonia de Leon; but Isobel gets magical assistance from a fortuneteller, and Paulo offers her the role of mistress--not bad since the reader learns that Isobel is an illegitimate child and unlikely to make a respectable marriage anyway. Her happiness, however, is still threatened by her fear of Paulo, by her mother's drug overdose, and by the sinister Gregorio del Pilar; Isobel must rely again on her fortuneteller to save her from the violent death seen in a prophetic dream. The melodramatic ending is as unconvincing as the surfacy characters. Love-story pulp, but an anti-romance: no attractive characters or happy ending.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1990
Publisher: Available/Ballantine