"Tales of Mystery and Romance presents a beguiling set of intertwined stories in the best manner of story-telling and yet, another sort of fictional experience. The unnamed 'I' in Frank Moorhouse's narrative speaks with a voice that is enigmatic and shrewd. The conflicts of his personality are both sexual and intellectual, apollonian and dionysian - how to go to conferences and enjoy yourself at the same time. Three elements recur in this book: mysticisim, conferences and 'volupté'. The 'I' sides with Anatole France in saying that volupté is the only solace, although other characters insist on asking: 'where is this volupté when you need it most?'
"You'll come away from the book, anyhow, knowing something about belly dancing, TM, the intricacies of homosexual sex, and even life after death.
"The book exudes a contemporary stance out of the story of two young men who are in love and their conflict of ideological style - two men who admittedly aren't too good at it but at least they get it together for a while.
"The book is full of intelligent and successful uncertainty, worried but pleasurable hedonism, effective scepticism, and the ultimate exuberant release whihc comes from amorality.
"In this odyssey which moves around the world, the story touches high comedy and low farce - the non-event of the Jack Kerouac Wake, the dispute over the exact form of sexual penetration achieved by Milton, the obituary of Berry Tonge, an argument with an ex-wife over 'motel sex' - and much tender and perceptive observation.
"Another queston which plagues the book: 'Is there a commune for those who do not fit very well into communes?'
"Frank Moorhouse is a story writer working with clusters of stories, overlapping them, interlocking them - what he has called 'discontinuous narrative'.
"A story of his often has reverberations not only through its cluster but through to his other books.
"What this means is, that if you like this book you'll like his other books and you'll meet some of the same characters again."
The Alter Ego Interpretation
Letters to an Ex-Wife Concerning a Reunion in Portugal
The Jack Kerouac Wake - the true story
The Mystery of the Time Piece
The Airport, the Pizzeria, the Motel, the Rented Car and the Mysteries of Life
The Loss of a Friend by Cablegram
Milton turns against Champagne
The Oracular Story
The Ritual of the Still Photograph
The Commune Does Not Want You
A Pertinent Diagram
Milton Rebutted - intellectual tricks and accusations about life style
The Chain Letter Story
From the Angus and Robertson paperback edition, 1977.
This page and its contents are copyright © 2001 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Frank Moorhouse page.
Last modified: April 22, 2001.