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Chocolate Creams and Dollars.

This dreamlike tale, translated by Paul Bowles from a tape-recorded conversation, is a loosely autobiographical account of a young Moroccan, Driss, who uses his position as houseboy to a wealthy old Englishman to amass a small fortune and buy a fleet of fishing boats. The handsome Driss cheats his employer and house guests constantly and without remorse; money, good food, good kif, and the sexual favors of women are all he seems to care about.

The book is notable for the suggestive flatness of its narrative tone--perhaps a linguistic equivalent to the handsome but poker-faced Driss. Philip Taaffe's illustrations for the book provide a good visual simulacrum of the young man's preoccupations: photographic reproductions of record albums, newspapers, money, and postcards; photographs of Driss lounging in his caftan; a single Honcho-like shot (a negative, printed in purple ink) of a formidable erection (Driss', perhaps?).

Those familiar with the long-running Mrabet-Bowles collaboration will welcome this new tale. Satisfyingly told, it suggests that a good creative collaboration--with its contrary impulses and seemingly irrational juxtapositions--can be as rich and mysterious as the best sort of love affair. Taaffe's contribution takes the work a step further, into a sort of literary three-way--making the story as exotically attractive and ultimately incomprehensible (in a bright, sexy way) as Morocco itself.
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Author:Spring, Justin
Publication:Artforum International
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1993
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