“His lack of desire, as he wiped her — wiped her stomach and the seam of her pussy like an exhausted waiter wiping a table — was extraordinary. He felt like he would never want to fuck another woman in his life. In the last minute, the way he saw her had undergone a profound metamorphosis. He noted the sanded soreness around her mouth, the zones of irritation — little livid spots — where she had shaved part of her pubic hair, the twofold meatiness of her sex … When he had finished wiping her he threw the smeared shorts onto the floor.”
So, at the heart of this book is a diffident, uncertain relationship. Katherine pulls James along, attracting and rejecting, offering herself and deferring. This affair is both the subject of the book, and its central metaphor; I think Szalay wants James and Katherine to stand in for something else, everything else. And, really, they do; the metaphor works so very well. Except that the thing that needs to animate the story, the face-value love affair, isn’t clear. I have absolutely no idea what it is that James sees in her.
January 23, 2012, 11:00am Comments