In her introduction to this new edition of her first novel, Banks (A Horse to Die For, etc.) tells us that when the manuscript was making its rounds two decades ago, one reader labeled the book "a smartass parafeminist psycho-erotic thriller." Banks goes on to say, "You can tell that times have really changed, because now it can be that officially, with those words right smack on the cover"--and indeed they are. After 20 years of other openly erotic and outspoken heroines, does this novel stand out as anything but a historical genre icon? The answer is a qualified "yes." Banks's heroine, Lida, is a fully realized and very sympathetic character, too smart for her job of teaching English at a community college in the Washington, D.C., area and constantly looking for love in the wrong places. That her Mr. Right turns out to be a reclusive novelist and self-confessed murderer works well as a plot device. Banks's eye for details of character and relationships was sharp even then: "Jerry's big voice filled the hall. He was an associate professor in the Geography Department and spoke every word as if it had seismic significance." The sex scenes are indeed erotic, if not particularly startling. The only part of the novel that comes across as dated, in fact, is its "parafeminist" agenda. Today, it's common knowledge that women want good sex on their own terms--a knowledge spread in part through novels such as this one.
Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.