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September 05, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

PARIS, WHEN IT'S NAKED by Etel Adnan (The Post-Apollo Press: $13.50; 115 pp., paperback original). As the narrator of this sensual novel walks the boulevards of Saint-Germaine, musing about the meaning of her life, her internal monologue focuses on the xenophobia that is splitting France and the rest of Europe. An expatriate Lebanese writer, Adnan feels the waxing enmity between the French and their former colonial subjects extends beyond the issue of light skin versus dark to the divisions between rich and poor, Christian and Muslim. Speaking through her narrator, she decries a conflict that lacks both purpose and resolution: "Paris is receding north as do its sister-cities of Berlin and Warsaw. Everything southern is kept at bay. We're at the beginning of some private Ice Age, the somnolence of winter will conduct us into the northern fields of solitude, where we will forget the interplays of life and death and subsist in darkness, on very little, indeed, very, very little."

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