Master of the comic novel, Jacobson (Kalooki Nights, The Mighty Walzer) explores the life of a London antiquarian bookseller, Felix Quinn. Quinn’s life begins to unravel after he encourages his wife, Marisa, to pursue a relationship with the young, brash, and handsome Marius. Voluntarily cuckolded, Quinn at first enjoys the pain of his wife’s infidelity, but then begins to regret the growing disconnect between him and Marisa. Quinn’s obsession with sexual mores fuels the narration, which is boldly and fanatically contemplative; and the psychological architecture of Felix and Marisa’s relationship makes the dark love triangle at the center of the novel altogether authentic and distressing.
The Act of Love
Through Quinn’s sophistication and passion for books, Jacobson also forges powerful connections between the subjects of literature and sexual fantasy. Quinn describes the frantic desire in both his personal and professional life as one founded on a strong curiosity — and one which causes him excitement and trepidation at every turn. Literary examples of infidelity and sexual obsession abound: Othello, Molly Bloom, Baudelaire, and The Brothers Karamazov all make appearances here, and James Joyce even appears as a character. Ultimately, Jacobson’s sometimes-shocking ruminations on longing and voyeuristic desire reinforce his place as one of Britain’s most compelling literary voices.
Phil Sandick is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has taught courses in literature, composition, and creative writing since 2006. Phil is currently studying rhetoric and composition at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
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