What's Called Love: A Real Romance

Jim Paul, Author
Jim Paul, Author Villard Books $19 (275p) ISBN 978-0-679-40971-7
Hardcover - 978-0-517-15608-7
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This minutely detailed record of the author's unrequited love affair is played against accounts of the amatory troubles of Stendhal and Petrarch and extended comments on Rabbi Akiba and the Song of Solomon. A San Francisco poet and writer, Paul ( Catapult ) invites ``L,'' the young woman he adores, on a three-week junket to France, hoping that she will fall in love with him. Eager to renew early memories of the country, L accepts, but she remains indifferent to Paul throughout their travels together from Paris to Provence. Although narrated with style and sensitivity, the painful details of Paul's self-effacements and humiliations in his efforts to please L fail to transcend the strictly personal; the reader readily agrees when L, exasperated, tells him to ``Be a man, not a boy.'' The surprise ending seems tacked on, as do the separate sections on Petrarch, Stendhal and Akiba, which are intriguing in themselves but fail to link up to this account of a sorry ardor. (Apr.)
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