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Reviewed by Jeff VanderMeer
Can a novel about love and the illusions of love be created out of almost 900 satire-laced pages devoted to obscene invective, hatred, pettiness, ignorance, pity, pride and hubris? This is the question raised by Alexander Theroux's first novel in 20 years, Laura Warholic or, The Sexual Intellectual. If the answer is "maybe," the blame lies less with Theroux's prodigious natural talent than with how he has chosen to structure his narrative and the repetitive nature of his characterizations.
Eugene Eyestones writes a sex column for Quink, a Boston magazine edited by the slobbish Minote Warholic and staffed by an eccentric band of misanthropes with names like Duxbak, Ratnaster, Clucker and Discknickers. Eyestones has been seeing -- with the intermittent frequency and heat of a sputtering light bulb -- Warholic's estranged wife, Laura, while obsessing over the unobtainable bakery employee Rapunzel Wisht. Although apparently a Vietnam veteran, Eyestones acts like a teenager, idealizing Rapunzel while cataloguing Laura's every fault. The intensity of this scrutiny is magnified by the torrent of insults offered by Minote Warholic, most of Quink's staff and several others. They present Laura's defects in eloquent and lengthy detail, "slacker and total skullcase" being perhaps the most understated of these comments. Eyestones becomes complicit in this character assassination by his silence, a passivity also exemplified by his unwillingness to either ditch ...