A NoveleBook - 2005
Russell Smith's highly praised new novel features some typically caustic satire, alongside a deep and melancholy awareness of the force of desire in our lives. The combination of wit and perception in Muriella Pent --and its brilliant dialogue, beautiful descriptive prose, assured handling of racial politics, and exact observation of modern types--underlines Russell Smith's claim to be one of Canada's subtlest, sharpest writers.
The book begins with a poem by Marcus Royston (from his "Island Eclogues") and a fundraising message from Muriella Pent; then, in the first scene, still before chapter one, these two very different writers have a revealing post-coital conversation. The combination of texts and action, the pointed and moving dialogue, and the ineradicable presence of sex tell us a lot about how Muriella Pent will go on: it's precise and original even before really beginning.
As satire and social observation, as an exploration of what art should be and do, as a study of sex as a prime mover in the messy triumphs of our lives, Muriella Pent is unmatched.