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The Arimaspian Spy.

David Lynn Hall's novel is published by an academic press, and readers of its advertising copy may be led to expect a rather arid novel of ideas. They should be assured that it's nothing of the sort. The Arimaspian Eye is indeed by and about a man who is very familiar with ideas and who doesn't hide the fact. But rather than being merely a story of conversion from one intellectual position to another, it's what any novel should be - a story of personal change through experience, eloquently, precisely, and passionately rendered.

We're told that the novel has "little plot in any ordinary sense," whatever that may be (Silas Marner? Rabbit, Run? The Lord of the Rings?), but there is certainly development aplenty of the kind a novel like this should have, as Michael Evers moves from his philosophy department in Texas, to his assignation site in Arizona, to a Tibetan Buddhist retreat in Colorado, to his childhood home in Louisiana, to a guest lectureship in London, and among sexual encounters with a variety of women, the first five of whom inhabit the same body and the last of whom apparently has no body at all. That is, whatever "same" and "body" mean; and Hall and his protagonist constantly question such matters - as does the reader, who is given all this in two strikingly different narrative voices (in different typefaces), both of which "belong" to Evers.

As for philosophical abstruseness - just as Einstein's Relativity requires of the reader only high-school algebra, so The Arimaspian Eye requires, I think, only high-school Alan Watts. In both cases, the reader who has more may be proportionately rewarded. But all interested readers will find this a very tasty, al dente reflective novel. I've read in several places lately that Buddha was the first postmodernist. Hall doesn't argue this; he demonstrates it.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Review of Contemporary Fiction
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Cunningham, Rodger
Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 22, 1993
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