Medusa's Gift Now, follow this: A woman claiming to be Magdalene, a long-vanished screen siren, suddenly appears on an island in the Aegean. She has been disfigured… Fiction Knopf
Book Review

Medusa's Gift (1991)

Details Writer: Lois Gould; Genre: Fiction; Publisher: Knopf

Now, follow this: A woman claiming to be Magdalene, a long-vanished screen siren, suddenly appears on an island in the Aegean. She has been disfigured by a sea creature, so to prove her identity she has a trunk of personal effects, as well as sperm samples from various celebrity lovers. The island is flooded with people smelling money, among them Professor Grace Craven, with whom Magdalene has an affair. A silly plot, but Gould (A Sea-Change, Necessary Objects) has decided to play it straight all the way. Her prose is as oblique and overly serious as Marguerite Duras' on a bad day. The book is full of overwrought aphorisms — ''An icon is just an I, conning'' — and tricksy double-talk: ''The seducer, seduced? Both, both — and each by the seductive self.'' For all this preening, Medusa's Gift has nothing but ordinary things to say about fame, principally that our idols are often worth more dead than alive. C+

Originally posted Oct 11, 1991 Published in issue #87 Oct 11, 1991 Order article reprints