Duras, Marguerite. The Lover. Trans. Barbara Bray. 1985. New York: HarperPerennial, 1992. Summary
: Originally titled L'Amant
. Mid-20th century, French Indochina. A white woman reflects back on her underaged romance with an older Chinese man. And though her life eventually takes her away from him (and her rather unfortunate family as well), he remains the love of her life. Comments
: Ugh. I simply do not understand what the supposed multitudes of people around the world saw in this thankfully brief little novella. Exotic flavor? Nostalgia? Okay, so it takes place in France's now-lost colonial empire. Sorry, but Asian locales don't impress me out of hand. Sordid sex scenes? Okay, so it's got interracial sex involving a minor. Oh, and it's also got a bit of homoerotic romance going on between the protagonist and her beautiful but foolish roommate. Sorry, but it's really hard to shock me. Memorable characters? Okay, so we've got a domineering, degenerate, gambling-addicted elder brother and an out-of-touch, infuriating child of a mother. Sorry, but "memorable" is not the same as "interesting." Nice try, but none of this actually goes anywhere...and I have little patience for pretentiously fragmented, stylistically insipid, transparently autobiographical novels that rely entirely upon base appeals to sentiment. Notes
: trade paperback, movie tie-in edition, 1st printing; first published in France by Les Editions de Minuit in 1984 Rating
- Duras makes a valiant reach for all of the right literary buttons...yet somehow fails utterly to push any of them.