This debut novel of short story writer Kaufman shows his command of language and characterization, but the reader is warned that the book has a few intense scenes of graphic sex and some torture, so you may not want to purchase it as a Xmas stocking stuffer. Kaufman's gift comes from taking two basically unlikeable characters, college lecturer Nicholas and his manipulative and voracious wife Constance, and weaving a tale of possession, power and madness around them. Despite Nicholas' endless often tedious observations of himself and life around him (in what is basically a diary format), Nicholas and Constance remain inscrutable and shadowy figures on the stage of their own lives. From a life of drug trafficking, sexual conquests along the lines of Dangerous Liasons, to the world of television soaps and eventually porno films, these two scheme, counterscheme, parry and thrust at each other, bound together by a deeper, if somewhat sicker, type of love. The title character of Grace, to whom the diary is written, is almost secondary to the action and I found myself wondering if she really existed or was merely Nicholas' device for exposing himself. If you liked "Vox" and are a fan of Nabokov, you may enjoy this journey to the underbelly of love.
This report prepared by Lisa Lyons