From Publishers Weekly
Theroux's characteristic haze of exoticism hangs over this uneven collection of two novellas and two stories, ushered in by the gothic title novella, which tells a tale of sexual perversity in Taormina, Sicily, in 1962. Gilford Mariner, a young American artist, is traveling around Italy imagining himself as a hero in an Antonioni movie. But when he encounters a rich German countess ("the Grafin") and her consort, Haroun, a Chaldean doctor, the movie turns into a Visconti: baroque, kinky and slightly kitschy. Haroun pays for Mariner to become the Grfin's lover, an alternately arousing and demeaning chore from which Mariner is only released when Haroun reveals the countess's "secret." In the four parts of "A Judas Memoir," Andy, the narrator, is a preteen Catholic in Medford, Mass., in an era when sexual repression meant something: the 1940s. Evelyn Frisch is a bold nymph who shows Andy the wonders of female urination in his back yard before his parents put a stop to it. We then jump to the affair between a horny schoolmate's mother and a milkman, and the perplexing discovery, on the part of Andy and his buddies, that the local priest, Father Staley, is a pedophile. In "An African Story," a Afrikaner farmer/writer is disastrously fixated on a one-armed black woman. Finally, in "Disheveled Nymphs," a retired lawyer becomes so infatuated with the mother and daughter team who clean his house in Hawaii that he stalks them on their vacation to Vegas. Theroux's title story is bigger on portentousness ("This is my only story," it begins) than revelation. By contrast, the quieter moments in other stories (Evelyn Frisch's giggling micturations, the Hawaiian maids' casual putdowns) are real gems of observation.
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Supremely moving. A master class in detail and sensuous evocation.The Financial Times of London Yet another stimulating volume in [Theroux's] impressive canon.The San Francisco Chronicle Erotic intrigue is at the heart of these stories, each of which renders familiar territory wonderfully strange.Vogue For armchair adventuring, STRANGER AT THE PALAZZO D'ORO is golden.Boston Herald an accomplished book by an accomplished writer (B+) Denver Rocky Mountain News Therou'x prose is shot through with gentle melancholy, evoking the complexities of matters of the heart with subtlety and grace. (3.5 out of 4 stars) People Magazine Theroux has rarely been in better form.The Los Angeles Times futher proof that Theroux, the evocative prose stylist, remains ever worth reading.The Washington Post Compelling reading.Charlotte Observer Theroux has the ability to capture people and places that are achingly beautiful Pittsburg Post Gazette Theroux uses his precise, realistic style like a scalpel...a marvelous yarn.Providence Journal a satisfying mix of tales...[Theroux's] stories are engrossing and evoke an air of sensuality.The Oregonian Oddly beguiling...dramatically rich.Contra Costa Times
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