Teeth of the Dog
Thomas, a renowned American anthropologist, his much younger wife Helene, and Finster, a young, culturally shipwrecked AMR (American mercantile riffraff), as he’s known locally, enact a tense personal drama of love and tragedy against the much larger historical drama of the Melanesian island of Vanduu, a steaming crucible where East and West, fundamentalist piety and free market fire, decay and sterility augur the future of the world. Helene has lured Thomas to Vanduu in the desperate hope that its tropical splendor can miraculously heal the fracture that has cleaved their lives: Thomas’s health is failing, and Helene simply can’t accept that she might lose him. Unable to cope with the gulf of loneliness that his illness has opened between them, Helene finds herself growing more and more desperate as they tour this lush, clamorous paradise that turns out to be no paradise at all. And then Finster appears–young, louche, popping up everywhere Thomas and Helene happen to be, dogging Helene like a lovesick puppy. When a tragic mishap caused by their dance of three accidentally takes the life of a Vanduuan child, Helene, separated from both men, becomes a fugitive left to fend for herself on this troubled, surreal, inexplicably foreign speck of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. With a distilled emotional power and prose so tactile you can feel the eroticism and heat on every page, this riveting tale enacts large themes–the inevitable consequences of the hegemony of the American dream, the inexorable loss of a deep, adult love compared to the hopped-up sex-for-sale enticements Finster offers in its place, and a glimpse into what progress, with its spiraling allurements, has truly forfeited.