The Sorcerer's Apprentice - François Augiéras (translated by Sue Dyson)

Ladymol's review:

First off, this is a novella, not a full-length book. It's tiny, and only took an evening to read.

Thank God.

I don't think I could have stood much more.

Hailed as a dark erotic masterpiece of perverted, violent love, it's more a travel-log of rural France. I'd quite like to visit the region where the book is set. Nice river. Nice caves. Nice tree.

Oh, the tree plays a major part; it's the only thing that gets even a hug.

Pretty writing that you might find in a really good travel book.

Gay sex? Well, there was the tree-hugging scene.



Just avoid.

Cerisaye's Review:

The Sorcerer's Apprentice By François Augiéras (translated by Sue Dyson) Well, that was the shortest of the books we've read. I'd like to say it was sweet, but that's not exactly the word I'd choose to describe it.

What did I think? Easy. Don't bother.

I can think of nothing good to say about this one, except that it looks pretty. A huge disappointment is what it is, a complete waste of money. It's only just over a hundred pages but it felt considerably longer.

Hailed as one of the great underground texts, if you ask me that's where it should've stayed, well buried.

It sounded so promising too. Set in France's black Périgord, in the Sarladais, described as 'a land of ghosts, cool caves and woods', I was expecting something mystical and magical. What you get instead is impenetrable.

The story, such as it is, concerns a 16 year old boy sent by his parents (for discipline?) to live with a 35 year-old priest. Yeah, great idea. Soon they're doing more than drinking coffee and Latin translations together. I'll admit here that this scenario was what attracted me to the book in the first place. Sounded interesting and nicely controversial. I was hoping for dangerous and erotic. Well, it bored me rigid. Despite the addition into the sexual mix of a 13 year old boy who delivers bread round the area and catches the eye of our young narrator. They make love in the shadowy darkness of a cave…then the older boy goes home and gets whipped by the priest, not as punishment but to heighten his pleasure. The sex is vague and non-graphic. Lingering attention however is given to S & M elements and self-flagellation. There isn't an iota of tingle, not for me anyway.

The characters are in no way real. We have neither names nor physical descriptions. The 16 year-old teases us with his identity. He may be reincarnated over several centuries…man…woman…water nymph…who knows, who cares? Not me. I really hate it too when writers feminise the submissive half of a coupling. I think the rural setting is supposed to be sensuous and tempestuous (lots of thunderstorms of course), and yes, there are some nice descriptive passages- if I want that, however, I'm going to read a travel book not a gay love story. There's one memorable (for all the wrong reasons) scene where the 16 year-old (and how tiresome it is to have no name for him) makes love to a tree. I kid you not. As a woman, naturally. It's risible.

I wouldn't flatter this piece of nonsense by calling it a novel. Self-indulgent and pretentious claptrap that reminded me of the film we also panned, Querelle.

Do yourself a favour and use your money to purchase one of the many good books on our list. Not recommended.

Publisher: Pushkin Press; (September 2001) ISBN: 1901285448

Buy from Amazon UK HERE (if you really want to waste some money)

or from Amazon USA here


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