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Bereavements

Ratings:
270 pages3 hours

Summary

"Mother Who Lost Son Seeks Son Who Has Lost Mother," read the advertisement in The Village Voice.

Those who replied: the curious, the disturbed, the opportunistic were writing to Mrs. Harrington-Smith Evans, one of the ten wealthiest women in the world whose only child, a teenage boy, had died a mysterious death.

Pretentious, theatrical, wantonly self-dramatized, increasingly deranged in her grief, Mrs. Evans indulges in all the extravagant expressions of bereavement that money can buy: a seamless glass coffin; an embalming secret the pharaohs of ancient Egypt must have dreamed of; and a tomb so costly and exquisite, Shan Jahan's ghost surely groaned in its envy.

Finally, the ad: in retrosepect so silly and embarrassing she needn't kill herself to die. But if she found him, a surrogate son might ease her grief, forestall her encroaching madness.

From the many respondents, her choice narrows down to three: Angel, an illiterate boy from New York's Spanish ghetto; Martin, a handsome, fatally ambitious young actor; and disarming Bruno, barely eighteen, an aspiring novelist who writes her perfumed letters in an absurd 19th century prose.

The Rivalries, the passions, the bizarre events that follow this strange entourage include murder, suicide, and a "haunting" like no other in this world or the next.

As he did in Lovers Living Lovers Dead, the author, tongue-in-cheek, mixes "comedy and ancient terror" in a lyrically layered style that critics call "a frightening lightness of tone...as eerie as the plot itself." But Bereavements also has its serious side. As its final pages chill us with the supernatural-as-metaphor, it is clear we are nearing the end of an extraordinary love story: one not eros but agapeone that distinguishes movingly between a love that is love, and a love that is Love.

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