A book about the revelations of truths. Where things may or may not be what they appear until the explosive climax.
The book takes its name from The Blue Hour, those moments of twilight that are described as the time where things are clearest yet most mysterious. 24 year old John Rechy is invited by a fan, Paul Wagner, to spend time on his private island with him after reading two of Rechy’s stories, Mardi Gras and The Fabulous Wedding of Miss Destiny, which later were included in Rechy’s acclaimed real life book, City of Night. Paul is particularly taken with the fascination and horror Rechy expressed in those stories at what he called the leering clowns and demonic angels during the height of Mardi Gras carnival in New Orleans. Also on the island are Paul’s exquisitely sensual mistress, and his rather precocious and challenging 14 year old son, Stanty (Constantine),
An under currant of tension runs throughout the story, intensified by the feelings of isolation in the recurring call of Father and Son of “Island, Island” stressing that they are entering a world that is solely theirs. Books play a large part in the story as much is made of the books in Paul’s vast library, including Gide’s The Counterfeiters and Robbe-Grillet’s Le Voyeur. Several books seemingly selected by Wagner for John Rechy, as the son continually calls him throughout the story, are left for him in his room while others, including The Origins of Evil, are deliberately left out in the library designed to catch his attention.
The book is a labyrinthine puzzle with clues being the books scattered about, the odd interactions and conversations between the few people on the island (including the will o’ the wisp servant couple), and what Paul, Sonia, and even his oddly ambivalent son who seesaws between childish behavior and adult perceptions and sudden violent actions.
There is a peculiar feeling of sadomasochism in the relationship of the host, Paul and his mistress Sonia. While Paul is drawn to her beauty and sexuality, those very things seem to make him despise her for exercising power over him, manifesting itself in his verbal cruelty and exhibitionistic and vicious, sometimes bloody kisses.
Paul continually tries to draw Rechy out in discussions of the nature of evil and cruelty, as he repeated refers to the descriptions of the “costumed revelers turned into angels, angels into demons, demons into clowning angels” fighting for beads in New Orleans so the bodies tangled and the “beads fell on splattered blood like dirty tears” in his story Mardi Gras. Paul seems to be trying to draw Rechy into admitting his own inherent cruelty from deriving joy in the exercising of sexual power over others. He is determined to draw similarities between himself and Rechy in that beneath the veneer of charm that both exude lies evil. The novel then turns even darker as the mind games become darker and more erotic. And nothing is what it seems.
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