December 23, 1991
The plot of Norman Rush's novel, his first, has the appealing simplicity of a fairy tale or a chivalric romance. A person of prepossessing strength and vigor and single-mindedness ventures alone into the desert and comes upon a forbidden, magical village. There that person courts and wins a mate of prepossessing purity. Usually the quester is male, his prize a female paragon. But in Mating, the quester is a woman, a lapsed doctoral candidate in nutritional anthropology, who goes unnamed throughout the novel.