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IN BRIEF

Fiction

December 02, 1990|Sonia Pilcer

DON JUAN IN THE VILLAGE by Jane DeLynn (Pantheon Books: $18.95; 240 pp.). In her last novel, "Real Estate," Jane DeLynn turned 1980s avarice and ambition into grand buffo. Now this most acute and dry-eyed chronicler of urban psychic waste offers "Don Juan in the Village," a devastating portrait of sexual conundrum, told in 13 stories about a gay female writer. Pickups are the litmus test of her attractiveness and the antidote to her loneliness. She frequents local watering holes, exotic clubs in Ibiza, Morocco and Padova; on good nights, the scenes move to someone's bed. DeLynn gives us graphic descriptions of women's bars, the etiquette, the desperate couplings after last call, and the often humiliating sex. The voice is aggressive first-person, full of urgency and self-derision, and unflinchingly honest. One wants to turn away and join the "normals," as the narrator calls the straight, coupled world. But we are drawn by her driving need for human connection. I was reminded of the Yeats line: "The tragedy of sexual intercourse is the perpetual virginity of the soul." "Don Juan" fascinates as it repels, and finally, it is terribly moving.

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