Deep Purple: A Novel

Deep Purple: A Novel

by Mayra Montero

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For the distinguished critic Agustín Cabán, music is indispensable to sexual emotion. Forced to retire from his San Juan newspaper, Agustín is writing his memoirs, which describe his long career seducing the women and men who were among the most brilliant classical musicians in the world.The Australian pianist Clint Verret offered a passionate and


For the distinguished critic Agustín Cabán, music is indispensable to sexual emotion. Forced to retire from his San Juan newspaper, Agustín is writing his memoirs, which describe his long career seducing the women and men who were among the most brilliant classical musicians in the world.The Australian pianist Clint Verret offered a passionate and tender interlude. Clarissa Berdsley, the French horn player, was submissive and playful. The flamboyant violinist Manuela Suggia turned out to be a vengeful and demonic lover.

In Deep Purple, Mayra Montero explores the relationship between sexual desire and music. For Agustín Cabán ultimately finds, in that deep and mysterious place that is the core of human sexuality, nothing less than the meaning of life.

Editorial Reviews

Los Angeles Times
“Montero may be one of the most under-recognized Latin American writers of our time.”
New York Times Book Review
“Dreamlike intensity.”
Dallas Morning News
“Lyric and lovely.”
The New York Times
Cabán may be recent literature's most comical Casanova. And the voice of the hero of this smart, tart novel by the Cuban exile Mayra Montero (who now lives in Puerto Rico) has not been lost in Edith Grossman's translation from the Spanish. That's good, because the novel's success depends almost completely on its enticing tone. Sometimes Deep Purple is deceptively sweet, like, say, Satie's ''Gymnopedies.'' Sometimes it's parodic and sneakily menacing, like Stravinsky's ''Eight Miniatures.'' Although quite short, the novel shape-shifts through many mood changes as Cabán makes his case for the sinuous connection between music and sexuality. — Lisa Zeidner
The L.os Angeles Times
It can be most difficult to compose sex scenes without appearing to be gratuitous or crude. Montero's work successfully transcends the erotica genre because her description of the act is clearly metaphorical, abstract in execution and devoid of clichéd porno prattle. Her great talent is her ability to envelop the reader in her character's psychological head games, which include underlying currents of sadistic pleasure. But even though most of the action is cerebral, her prose is blunt and direct; she does not choose to linger on sentimentality. It's easy to see why the novel won Spain's prestigious literary prize for erotica, the Sonrisa Vertical (The Vertical Smile) in 2000. — Adriana Lopez
Publishers Weekly
Seduction becomes a game of musical chairs in Montero's latest, a short, succulent erotic novel in which a libidinous music critic catalogues his conquests of the various virtuosos he's reviewed over the years. After a long and distinguished stint as the music reviewer for a San Juan newspaper, Agustin Caban has just retired. But he still has much to say, and it's not long before he's back at his desk, encouraged by his editor to pen a series of erotic memoirs. He begins with his affair with Virginia Tuten, the violinist who becomes his lifelong passion despite the presence of Caban's long-suffering and nearly invisible wife. Caban doesn't limit himself to women: another tryst is with male pianist Clint Verret, which turns into a threesome when Verret brings a woman into the picture. In other interludes, Caban's lovers are cheekily likened to their instruments: one plays the celeste and another the clarinet. But Montero saves Caban's most thrilling adventures for last. In his affair with French horn player Clarissa Berdsley, the musician's pet bat gets in on the sexual shenanigans, and a series of degrading but satisfyingly kinky episodes with violinist Manuela Suggia comes to a tragicomic end. Montero (The Red of His Shadow, etc.) shows considerable creativity in sustaining her one-note conceit, and she paints an appealing portrait of Caban as a wryly erudite gigolo who uses music in a variety of innovative ways as a vehicle for seduction. The combination of arch, literate writing (effortlessly translated by Grossman) and Caban's daring sexual escapades make this book a delectable treat from start to finish, especially for classical music mavens. (June) Forecast: This erotic fantasia compares favorably with Mario Vargas Llosa's Notebooks of Don Rigoberto, and is another successful entry in Montero's steadily growing oeuvre. Though critically it may be considered a side step, it should win Montero an influx of new readers. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
It's easy to understand why this work won the Sonrisa Vertical Prize for erotic fiction. Agust!n Cab n, a music critic retiring from a San Juan newspaper, is encouraged to write his memoirs about his relationships with distinguished classical musicians throughout his career. Unfolding in sonata form is a series of episodes describing in graphic detail his trysts with five famous soloists, male and female alike; we are led to understand that others occurred but are not described. Cuban-born Montero attempts, not entirely successfully, to persuade the reader of the strong link between eroticism and the aesthetics of music, especially as the various sexual styles reflect the instrument that the virtuosi play. The overlay of burlesque dissipates that metaphor somewhat, and the strong erotic flavor overshadows the aesthetic. As always, translator Grossman turns out a well-balanced and smooth read. A fitting successor to The Last Night I Spent with You in its sensuality and to The Messenger for its ties to the classical music world, this is entertaining but not great literature. Reluctantly recommended.-Lawrence Olszewski, OCLC Lib., Dublin, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Music is the ultimate aphrodisiac in this aggressively sexy sixth novel from the Cuban-born author. The subject is retired newspaper music critic Agustin Caban's piecemeal memoir of his erotic encounters with eminent-and, it seems, perpetually ardent-classical performers (" . . . the musical climax makes them want the other climax: they are burning up inside"). Caban's revelations, coaxed out of him by his salivating former editor, introduce such willing and various crazed partners as a sexually repressed mulatto violinist, a bisexual male Australian pianist, and a French horn virtuosa who's also an expert fellatrix. These very entertaining vignettes also cohere into a subtle, striking character study of a music lover who's simultaneously observer, celebrant, and exploiter of the art and artists he helplessly adores. The best yet from Montero (The Red of His Shadow, 2001, etc.).

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.12(h) x 0.53(d)

Meet the Author

Mayra Montero was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1952, but has lived in Puerto Rico since the mid 1960s. She studied journalism in Mexico and Puerto Rico and worked for many years as a correspondent in Central America and the Caribbean. She is presently a highly acclaimed journalist in Puerto Rico and writes a weekly column in El Nuevo Dia newspaper. Montero's first book was a collection of short stories, Twenty-Three and a Turtle. Her second book, a novel titled The Braid of the Beautiful Moon, was a finalist for the Herralde awards, one of Europe's most prestigious literary awards. Each of her subsequent books — The Last Night I Spent With You, The Red of His Shadow, In the Palm of Darkness, and The Messenger — has been published in the United States in translations by Edith Grossman, as well as in several European countries. Her other nonfiction work appears frequently in scholarly and literary publications throughout the world.

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