A review by mattleesharp
Steps by Jerzy Kosinski


Yes, this book is very sexually charged, but I'm not quite ready to declare it just some jerk-off screed that erupted from a man trapped in a too repressed era of writing. There's a lot more going on.

I found myself pretty regularly thinking back to Brief Interviews and Metropole while reading this collection of kind of related vignettes. The first because this book is without reservation focused on a pretty "bad" person, someone manipulative and insecure. The I of this book is so distant from all of the action, I sometimes forgot it was written in first person. There is this interesting conversation going on between the action and the language (and going on particularly in all of some sex-heavy italic dialogue breaks) of this book that says something about how people reconcile their inability to really make a stand for something with their desire to be heroic.

That conversation is expanded upon in the many scenes where the main character is literally unable to communicate with the people around him. Many scenes take place in countries where no one knows the language of the main character and, much like in Metropole, it leads to this desperate desire to just connect with someone no matter what about. But unlike in that book, Kosinski gives us a payoff. His main character is in sudden poverty and stranded on a foreign beach and finds himself so grateful for an apple from a pair of strangers that the entire scene becomes an orgy a page later. A scene with a bartender who doesn't speak his language leads to knowing prods from patrons eager to indulge.

In some ways this is an interesting anti-feminist piece. All of its women are helpless objects meant to either sexually satisfy the main character or hinder him from discovering himself as a whole person. But I don't think that's gratuitous for some pornographic or self indulgent reason. I think it serves to illuminate a very real crisis--the terrible understanding that sometimes we cannot even convince ourselves that there is something more to us than our actions.