The Sphinx

The Sphinx

And Now for Something Completely Different

A Review by Alex Walker

The Sphinx, by Anne Garreta is experimental LGBT fiction at its finest. An erotic love story set in the dimly lit halls of afterw hours Paris. A critical hit in France when it was first published in1986, it is just as compelling in  the English translation.

The Sphinx, is astounding in Garreta’s command of language, and the use of restraint to tell a story that is as much a sexual enigma as it is as a meditation on desire and loss, love and identity. This novel is a nocturnal celebration of unhindered sensuality with every line a sigh from the touch of fingertips gently brushing against frenzied flesh. An atmospheric exploration of languid nights and “syncopated rhythms” pulsing with heat in the smoky nighttime Paris club land. A riddle that leads the reader into a fevered, intoxicated dream of extravagance, decadence and brooding passion, set to the pulsing all consuming rhythm of club life in the 80s.

As you read these pages you can almost feel the crush of bodies dissolving into one enraptured mass held in awe by the DJs’ inscrutable spell. The novel casts its spell as well; of words that live on between the realms of dream and reality, that will linger with the reader long after the last page has turned and the reader awake; slithering through the air, no more than a wisp of their enigmatic presence.

I’d like to dedicate this review to The Center for Fiction which has kept me in books and tranquility, and to Albertine, the bookstore next to Central Park sponsored by the French Embassy, a place that truly breathes in French, for their recommendation. Both places are of course closed, but the books live on. They help us escape from our quickly tightening world, or visit our favorite places, journey to new ones, they might even transport us out of our own heads. When all the bookstores in the world are closed the books live on…

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