About the Book

Moira Orfei in Aigues-Mortes

Moira Orfei in Aigues-Mortes

A Novel
September 2004
Trade Paperback · 256 Pages
$13.95 U.S. · £9.99 U.K. · €9.99 E.U.
ISBN 9781932360530
Soft Skull Press


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Five years of breakdown separate pianist Theo Mangrove’s last recital in Europe from his planned comeback in Aigues-Mortes, "the town of dead water." At home in tiny East Kills, NY, Theo begins jotting in 25 notebooks, purchased all at once and addressed to his mother. Theo’s wife, aside from servicing two of Theo’s twenty daily erections, will have nothing to do with him. The other eighteen—taken care of by male hustlers, random strangers in YMCA locker-rooms and naked piano students—contribute to Theo’s sense of dissolution as his "comeback" approaches. Overcome with the belief that Moira Orfei, queen of the Italian circus during the 1960’s, must perform with him, Theo begins to write to her and to pen what may or may not be her cryptic replies into his notebooks. In a fugue of notes and troubling memories, Theo prepares for Aigues-Mortes, struggling with Moira’s guidance towards one final, full celebration of "the partial, the flawed, the almost, the not quite." Peopled by piano playing relatives, prostitutes, muses and manipulators; poet and cultural critic Wayne Koestenbaum’s first novel shines a hot light on the treacherous crossroads of sex, death, family and popular culture.

About the Author

Wayne Koestenbaum is the author of three collections of poetry, Ode to Anna Moffo and Other Poems, Rhapsodies of a Repeat Offender, and The Milk of Inquiry. Among his works of cultural criticism are The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire (a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist), Cleavage: Essays on Sex, Stars, and Aesthetics; the Penguin Lives biography of Andy Warhol; and Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting an Icon. Wayne Koestenbaum lives in New York City.