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RAPTURE by Susan Minot

RAPTURE

By Susan Minot

Pub Date: Jan. 28th, 2002
ISBN: 0-375-41327-8
Publisher: Knopf

A loose and discursive novella by Minot (Evening, 1998, etc.), who manages here to ramble on a pretty good ways in remarkably few pages.

There is a particular post-coital moment when one everything begins to seem remarkable and striking—the pattern of the wallpaper, the ticking of the clock, the hissing of a radiator in the next room. The lovers in this tale are apparently trapped in such a moment, for they offer us, from beginning to end, nothing other than the sort of gooey platitudes (“He thought of his grandmother’s driveway. That’s what popped into his head. The way it looked in the fall with orange leaves on the bright green grass”) that are best washed away with a brisk, cold shower. The story itself—which appears only in a sort of fragmentary haze—is mostly a succession of flashbacks that describe the various steps by which Benjamin Young ended up in bed with Kay Bailey. Ben is a filmmaker who meets Kay during a movie shoot in Mexico. He is unhappily attached to Vanessa Crane, a college sweetheart who runs an art gallery and wants to marry him. Kay keeps some distance from Ben, although she is fascinated by certain parts of his body (“It was a curious organ, taking one form in repose, then becoming quite transformed when activated”), and she doesn’t seem ready to commit herself to anything. Ben, on the other hand, knows that he is not in love with Vanessa (“He still loved her, he’d always love her, but he wasn’t in love anymore”) and suspects that his true happiness will have something to do with Kay. If this all sounds rather vague, try to imagine it being narrated in the third-person: “I mean, here was Kay now, performing fellatio on him when she’d told him a year ago she never wanted to see him again. He didn’t get it.” Neither do we.

Silly, aimless, and pretentious: Rapture reads like notes for a novel that the author had the good sense to abandon.