LOUIE AND WOMEN by Todd Walton


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Louie is Louie Cameron, a thin, handsome architect/piano-player who has abandoned both careers for the past three years--choosing instead to bum around northern California, feeling alienated and guilty ever since Marie, a woman-friend, went to prison for assault because of too-passive Louie. (A scuffle with Louie's ex-wife and her lover.) But now Louie seems to be coming back to life: he saves a woman from rapists, suffering a knife-wound in the process. And then, stumbling around in poor shape, he's befriended by Helen and Andrea, a mother and daughter who live nearby with Helen's husband George, a totally incapacitated stroke victim. Louie's ""senses are so highly tuned,"" says Helen in one of the statements from the women that are interspersed through the third-person narrative; Andrea promptly seduces him--but it's more than just sex. And, after George succeeds in drowning himself, Andrea (who's a college teacher back East) and Louie seem headed for a permanent relationship. But Louie must go back and see Marie, now out of prison, whom he never actually slept with--and for a while it seems like he'll stay with her and her kids, even after she confesses to a recent career in degrading courtesan-ship. (Louie, in turn, confesses to a mental-hospital stint.) Then Helen tries to commit suicide, bringing Andrea back to California for a confrontation with confused Louie: ""I want to love you, and I want to love her, and I don't mean sexually, I mean to care for you both."" And finally it's hello Andrea, goodbye Marie--who says to the whimpering, apologetic Louie: ""Your problem is, you got too much woman in you."" Walton (Inside Moves, Forgotten Impulses) doesn't manage to make drifter-stereotype Louie a coherent or particularly appealing character-study--despite the fact that all those women find him irresistible. (There's also the woman he rescues from rape, who nearly rapes him.) And the heavyweight themes that pop up--love vs. sex, life vs. death--are thinly treated. But some of the supporting characterizations are diverting; and, with nonstop conflicts and crises packed into a very short novel, this blend of sex, sentiment, and California existentialism may find an offbeat readership.

Pub Date: April 20th, 1983
Publisher: Dutton