From Publishers Weekly
Before Afghanistan became front-page news and then a travel destination for adventurers, Marlowe (How to Stop Time: Heroin from A to Z
) "dreamed about going there." After missing the chance as a 20-year-old exploring Europe (she got as close as Istanbul), she had to wait 25 years. During that time, the author, a writer and legal headhunter, bought a Manhattan townhouse, traveled to other Third World countries, survived heroin addiction and enjoyed a lively sex life as a single woman. She finally trekked to Afghanistan in 2002, where she found the "kindness and tenderness" she lacked in New York and, although she's Jewish, felt "more at home than I had in Israel, and more loved." The book's subtitle refers to the author's failed affair with an Afghan man 10 years her junior, but the memoir is equally a valentine for the Islamic world. Marlowe meets Amir, a Muslim engineer, shortly before her second trip to Afghanistan; between chapters about her passionate times with him, she writes fondly about her host family in the northern city of Mazar, where she teaches English. Though a graceful writer, Marlowe has trouble integrating the stories of her two passions. Still, her honest meditations on love and family make this a satisfying read. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
"I want to have an arranged marriage," Amir, a Princeton-educated Afghan émigré announces at a dinner party at Marlowe's West Village apartment. And then, over risotto with fall vegetables, he tells the other guests what he wants: "A seventeen-year-old virgin." They are horrified, especially when, a couple of months later, Marlowe begins an affair with him. Marlowe's second memoirthe first was about her time as a heroin usercandidly recounts her fascination with Afghanistan and the hungry, hopeless, clumsy progress of the affair. At times, her fetishizing of Amir's rugged build and exotic heritage inclines one to sympathy with her disapproving friends, but her sharp intellect rescues this faltering romantic narrative, and she provides an incisive and refreshing comparison of Afghan and Western social mores.
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker