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Ava
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As in her innovative, passionate previous novels, Ghost Dance and The Art Lover , Maso's third work of fiction presents heartbreakingly familiar emotions in an utterly original form. Reminiscent of Joyce's Ulysses , the book records one special and ominous day in the life of Ava Klein--her last day, in fact, as she dies of a rare blood cancer at age 39. In paragraphs that are often only a word, a name or a line, Maso conveys this uncompromising and vibrant woman's rich emotional life: her three husbands, close friends, a cat named Madame Butterfly, her teaching and writing career, such cherished places as New York and Paris, authors and literary characters who have entered her existence as thoroughly as flesh-and-blood people. The author's deft use of repetition and amplification binds together and thickens Ava's story, which is further enriched by captivating flashes of imagery: ``the rose called Cuisse de Nymphe Emue: Thigh of an Aroused Nymph.'' (Maso provides endnotes to help readers with more obscure references.) Without minimizing the tragedy of Ava's illness--which continues the tragic history of a family who experienced the horrors of Treblinka--Maso offers a generous, hopeful fictional memoir of an unusual woman's final day of life. First serial to Conjunctions; author tour. ( May )

``Passionate and promiscuous'' is how the author characterizes the reading of Ava Klein, the dying protagonist of the novel. This same phrase could be used to describe Ava in her love and life as well. This richly textured, experimental piece of fiction presents to the reader the sights and sounds of a life lived to the fullest as the memories flood the consciousness of Ava on her last day on earth. Husbands and lovers, places and times both distant and near, family and relatives, war and peace, songs and nature, reading and intellect all weave together to form a tapestry of life and love. Continuing the emotional drive and experimental style of her two previous novels, The Art Lover ( LJ 5/15/90) and Ghost Dance ( LJ 7/86), Maso has written another spellbinder in this current novel. Recommended for serious fiction collections.-- Cherry W. Li, Los Angeles

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