When David Bennett, 21-year-old grad student at an upstate New York college awakes one morning in 1959, he discovers that he has partial amnesia. His efforts to reconstruct the events of the previous night, spent at a bar, while concealing his memory loss from friends, motivates the narrative's twists and turns, including much talk about philosophy, sex and salvation. Did David actually have a homoerotic episode with his Svengali-like friend, Dmitri Leskov? This possibility seems reinforced by David's erotic horseplay with another fellow student, Jimmy Fisher, a closet gay who has just left his wife for a boyfriend. As the befuddled hero pieces together the events that triggered his amnesia, we see his condition as a metaphor for the universal process of forgetting that disconnects us from our hidden impulses and true selves. Leskov, a manipulator who does yoga exercises and prays with Hasidic Jews, emerges as the novel's pervasive presence, imparting wisdom to Bennett even after a tragic event. Midwood ( Bodkin ; Phantoms ) brings pitch-perfect dialogue to his witty profiles of young academics. (June)
Nightmares, delusions, and fantasy all pervade the world of David Bennett, a 21-year-old graduate student at a small college in upstate New York in 1959. One morning David wakes up unable to recall his actions the night before; he remembers only that he went to a bar with friends. What follows is a Hitchcock-style probing of the recesses of the mind. During the next 24 hours David performs in a sinister play he himself has written, has an erotic encounter, and suffers the loss of two friends, all the while maintaining secrecy about his amnesia. As a result he gains some insight about that lost night and also about the ethical and spiritual dimensions of his world. Of especial interest to readers of the phantasmal.-- Molly Abramowitz, Silver Spring, Md.