Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Dead Hand, by Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux, A Dead Hand. New York: Marina Books, 2010. paperback, 279 pps.

A Dead Hand, subtitled A Crime in Calcutta, is a work of fiction and a crime mystery by the great Paul Theroux. (He and Oliver Sachs are tops on my wish list of people to hang out with for a couple of hours drinking tea and talking about regular stuff). As always with Theroux's writings, a sense of place is omnipresent. The narrator is a man reluctant to leave Calcutta because of a mysterious woman. The woman, Mrs. Unger, is an American ex-pat with an orphanage, some knowledge of tantric sex and Kundalini, and a fetish for the blood of black goats. She also has a pair of quasi sons-- Charlie and Rajat. She is a wealthy philanthropist, but not after the fashion of Mother Theresa so it seems. Theroux inserts himself into the book by meeting the narrator and asking if he knows Mrs. Unger. The ending involves a cremation without rain.

This book should be required reading for any fluffy bunny who believes that Kali-Ma is a benevolent protector of women and fluffy bunnies.

sapphoq reviews says: Highly recommended for fans of Paul Theroux as well as for those who appreciate a sense of place.

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