PRINT September 1996


Obscene Bodies

“IN THE BESTSELLING TRADITION established by Michael Chabon, Bret Easton Ellis, and Donna Tartt, Kim Benabib examines the moral dilemmas and social pressures of his generation in a striking debut novel set in New York’s beguiling art world.” So reads the cover copy on Obscene Bodies, a largely unbeguiling effort by someone whose bio mentions painter mother, dealer dad, unspecified work at CBS, and a research job on The Charlie Rose Show. Note that the pantheon into which Benabib’s publicist inserts him is basically one of well-off college kids who met the right editor, collected a big paycheck, and were promptly forgotten by anyone who takes literature seriously, though such writers still serve as exemplars of “the younger generation” for the sclerotic mandarins of The New York Review of Books and similar publications. While one can credit an Ellis, or a Tartt, with a measure of novelistic

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