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Laura Warholic, or, The Sexual Intellectual
     

Laura Warholic, or, The Sexual Intellectual

by Alexander Theroux
 

A brilliant satire from one of the great novelists of his time.
In his first novel in nearly twenty years, Alexander Theroux, National Book Award Nominee, returns with a compendious satire, a bold and inquisitorial circuit-breaking examination of love and hate, of rejection and forgiveness, of trust and romantic disappointment, of the terrors of contemporary

Overview

A brilliant satire from one of the great novelists of his time.
In his first novel in nearly twenty years, Alexander Theroux, National Book Award Nominee, returns with a compendious satire, a bold and inquisitorial circuit-breaking examination of love and hate, of rejection and forgiveness, of trust and romantic disappointment, of the terrors of contemporary life. Eugene Eyestones, an erudite sex columnist for a Boston cultural magazine, becomes enmeshed in the messy life of a would-be artist named Laura Warholic, who, repulsing and fascinating him at the same time, becomes a mirror in which he not only sees himself but through which he is forced to face his own demons. Not only does she inadvertently supply him with material for his columns, but she exemplifies all that Eugene considers wrong with contemporary America (of which the publishing profession and its recognizable denizens serves as a microcosm)a garish and dunce-filled Babylon that Theroux scorches with inventive and relentless satire. Nostalgic for the old days and old manners, a way of life lost to grace, loving from afar a mysterious beauty named Rapunzel Wisht, Eugene fights against the rising tide of stupidity, focusing on Laura in the hope that by saving her he can validate his ethical beliefs. But feckless Laura and the colorful but bizarre cast of characters surrounding Eugenebrilliant bigots, nihilists, Generation-X slackers and zanies of all sexual persuasionsthreaten to pull him under, leading to the novel's unforgettable conclusion, a climax of betrayal and redemption of Dostoevskyan power.
As in all of Theroux's works, his maximalist and pyrotechnic prose style and searching intellect are the chief attractions, capable of outrageous comedy, nuanced philosophical discussions, winsome love scenes, flame-throwing tirades, subtle theological musings, and an unflinching genius for a profound if merciless look at the human condition. Horrifying and hilarious, damning and demanding, Laura Warholic in its uncompromising power will surely be one of the most talked-about novels of the season, and for years to come.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Eugene Eyestones, a postmodern Miss Lonelyhearts, writes a sex column (derived from his wide-ranging reading) for the Boston magazine Quink. Eyestones lives a solitary life, lacking eros, listening to classical music or jazz on his collection of old 78s, and feeding his cat, Nook. Eventually, he falls into the messy, supercharged emotional world of his editor's ex-wife, Laura Warholic, who provides material for his column as well. (Her gums seemed "almost as red as that wide mouth smeared like a fellatrix with so much lipstick that it seemed in its excess to parody a leer of invitation, in its psychofelinistic color…suggesting that her kiss would never leave.") Eyestones yearns for someone to love, but though he sets his erotic sights on Rapunzel Wisht, he immerses himself so deeply in trying to save Laura from herself that he never can climb the walls of Rapunzel's castle. Like Nathanael West's Miss Lonelyhearts, Eyestones—an idealist in a broken-down world—succumbs to his own pessimism and idealism. Theroux's playful use of language, his often savage jabs at the publishing industry, and the wacky denizens of his and Laura's world carry the novel along. It's probably too long by 300 pages or so; Laura's insecurities and manias as well as Eyestones's vacillations eventually get tiresome. Yet Laura Warholicis the work of a manic genius, and Theroux's first novel in nearly 20 years will satisfy his fans who have been waiting for it.
—Henry L. Carrigan Jr.
Kirkus Reviews
A big, drooly, shaggy dog of a postmodern epic, one that takes up an awful lot of space but doesn't give a lot of affection in return. Theroux, perhaps best known for his meditative essays, The Primary Colors (1994) and The Secondary Colors (1996), has clearly read his dictionaries; his writing is a groaning board for logophiles, of a piece with, though more comprehensible than Finnegans Wake. One has the sense that, as in Joyce's book, there's a perverse private joke in play here, a way of memorializing pals and getting back at enemies. Friend and foe alike bear Helleresque names: There's the unfortunate sort-of-artist Laura Warholic, her name redolent of tomb-raiding and the Factory, and the cultural critic Eugene Eyestones, who finds himself entangled with Laura and in trouble for controversial essays that offend various and sundry minorities. There's the gluttonous Mr. Warholic, publisher and bon vivant who calls to mind any number of real-life publisher/bon vivant types, but who doubtless would not wish to be described as having, for instance, "a moon-fat face that gave him the grey, oily look of soft cheese." There's food writer Ann Marie Tubb and R. Bangs Chasuble, well-rounded film critic. Laura herself is described as "a highly edited person . . . [who] hated the arugula set," more than a little needy, and more than a little pitiable. Then there are the random victims of fashion, their lives all T-shirts and "vodka, handcuffs, Pink Floyd LPs," to say nothing of obligatorily ironic discs by Martin Denny. All these gasbags swirl about in the vast space of the First World, buzzing around Grand Central and alighting on San Francisco and Paris, trying to make sense of their lives, notdoing much of anything, and talking. A lot. A bloated Bonfire of the Vanities for the pomo set, full of carefully placed products (Pringles, anyone?), in-jokes and elegant blather.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781560977988
Publisher:
Fantagraphics Books
Publication date:
05/29/2007
Pages:
600
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.40(d)

Meet the Author

Alexander Theroux is an award-winning novelist, poet, and teacher whose prose works include
Laura Warholic or, The Sexual Intellectual, Estonia, and the two artist monographs The Strange Case of Edward Gorey and The Enigma of Al Capp. His novel Darconville’s Cat was chosen by Anthony Burgess as one of the 99 greatest post-war novels. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and children.

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