Books: Tasks

VIRGINIE: HER TWO LIVES

by John Hawkes

Harper & Row; 215 pages; $13.95

In a brief preface to his ninth novel, John Hawkes writes: "My subject was, from the start, that wisp of shell-pink space shared equally, I am convinced, by the pornographic narrative (in color photographs) and the love lyric, from the troubadours, say, to the present." He adds that the story first came to him "in a reverie about de Sade." But the reader who thinks "Boyohboy!" and curls up with Virginie expecting a spanking good time will be disappointed. Like all of...

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