Monday, July 17, 2006

A Stinker and a Sweetie

I've just finished a sweet novel called "Multiple Choice" by Claire Cook. Cook is the author of the fun novel (and delightful movie) "Must Love Dogs." I really needed something this upbeat and fun to wash the awful taste of "Mr Muo's Traveling Couch" out of my mind. The author, Dai Siji (I am certain I'm not spelling that right) had written the funny, offbeat "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress" and caught me off guard with the pervading odor of whimsey in that novel, which is about communist re- education camps in China during the 1970s. I figured that the author would continue in this whimsical vein in "Mr Muo..." but I was horribly disappointed. The main character is a spineless, stupid, sexist lunatic who has nothing to recommend him except his bizarre fixation on Freudian psychology. We are introduced to a local magistrate who is a former executioner and a psychopath, and an embalmer who is deflowered by Muo, only to be abandoned by him because she's served her purpose, that of a sex partner. A vain man who admits he's ugly, Muo nevertheless believes that the answer to all the worlds problems is sex. As a virgin, he seeks sex with a woman to prove his virility, and has the nerve to seek another virgin to give to the slimy magistrate, so that he can obtain the release of his beloved "Volcano of the Moon" from prison. He never does, however, obtain that release, and we are subjected to grotesque descrptions of filth, ugly people doing ugly things, and Chairman Maos doctors description of why he refused to bathe his genitals (He claimed to have "washed them in the bodies of many women." EWWW.
So it was with great pleasure that I read of the mother-daughter relationship of March and Olivia, and March's relationship with her husband and son. There's a radio show involved that is very realistic to what weekend radio shows are really like, and much of Marches life is similar to mine, so I could relate to that, too.
So avoid the summer stinker and go for the sweet book by Cook.

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