by Paul Theroux
The men and boys who populate this collection are a desperate bunch, driven by libidinous desires. An aimless young man prostitutes himself to a countess, a boy suffers a crisis of faith while ogling a girl during mass, a lonely retiree stalks his two maids to Las Vegas. It sounds like melodrama, but Theroux has a light touch. In "Scouting for Boys," a standout, the smutty banter between prepubescent pals is hilarious, though the revelation that a priest has sexually abused one of them is anything but. In each story Theroux's prose is shot through with gentle melancholy, evoking the complexities of matters of the heart with subtlety and grace.