The Sensationist (Picador Books)

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9780330318433: The Sensationist (Picador Books)

Beginning a tormented search for anonymous sensual pleasure, David, a man obsessed with women, pursues a trail of aimless conquest and the intimacy of strangers. By the author of The Quincunx. Reprint.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Having established his literary credentials with last year's complex, bustling, Dickensian The Quincunx , Palliser now goes to the opposite extreme with this short, controlled novel of sexual obsession. The protagonist is David, a young man come from England to Scotland to work in a sophisticated computer operation. Compulsively fulfilling his need to bed women he does not know, he leads a lonely and alienated existence until he meets Lucy, an artist and single mother. Their sexual couplings are described in sensuous detail, but because Lucy is elusive and essentially unknowable, David is still unsatisfied. Darkly foreboding, the drama of their intersected lives builds to a shocking conclusion. While the novel is clever, it leaves the impression that Palliser wrote it as an intellectual exercise. Readers may feel cheated because although Palliser leads them to expect that the denouement will result from the hero's tragic flaw, the narrative culminates instead in a deed for which David is not responsible. The relentlessly flat, brooding prose, filled with images of decay, fetid smells, cold and death, sets an appropriate atmosphere, but, however well-done, this erotic novel (which may be compared to Josephine Hart's Damage ) is essentially devoid of emotion.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

What does a writer do for an encore when his first book, The Quincunx ( LJ 12/89), was an epic re-creation of a 19th-century English novel? Palliser returns with a slim volume that owes more to Kafka than Dickens. The titular sensationist is a modern everyman named David who takes an unspecified job in a nameless city. He relieves the emptiness of his life with episodes of furtive sex and drug-induced euphoria until he meets Lucy, a mercurial artist with a young daughter. Passion and cruelty mingle as they strive for an unachievable intimacy, their relationship and lives ultimately unraveling when David loses his job due to a "system failure" and Lucy's destructiveness turns tragic. Told in a fragmented style that echoes its theme, this novel convincingly explores system failures of the personal and social varieties. Recommended.
- Lawrence Rungren, Bedford Free P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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CHARLES PALLISER
Published by PICADOR (1992)
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