The Stranger at the Palazzo D'Oro

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 December, 2004, 12:00am

The Stranger at the Palazzo D'Oro

by Paul Theroux

Mariner $90

This collection of short stories deals with sex and its consequences. In the title piece, an elderly American painter remembers a torrid love affair he had with a wealthy German countess 10 years his senior. He had seduced her partly at the request of her doctor. A Judas Memoir is about a youth in Massachusetts who recounts his early glimpses of sex, without any clear understanding. An African Story describes the fate of a South African writer who leaves his wife for a black woman. Sex, again, is at the centre because sex takes the place of his writing. The woman leaves him when she becomes pregnant as this was all she wanted from him. Disheveled Nymphs, the last story, is about a wealthy lawyer who retires to Hawaii and becomes fascinated by his cleaning women, a mother-and-daughter team.