Foxy lady

Pub date October 28, 2009
SectionArts & CultureSectionLiterature

A Hu-Li appears to be your run-of-the-mill lascivious 15-year-old prostitute in modern Russia. She does all the things professionals who cater to the discerning international pedophile do. What are those things? Well, she posts ads on the Internet that read:

"A FAIRY TALE CUM TRUE: Small breasts for big money. A little ginger kitten is waiting for a call from a well-to-do stranger. Classic sex and royal head, anal, petting, bondage, whipping (including the Russian knout), foot fetish, strap-on, sakura branch, lesbo, oral, anal stimulation, cunnilingus (including compulsory), role-swapping, two-way, gold and silver rain, fisting, piercing, catheter, copro, enema, gentle and heavy domination, Mistress and Slave girl services. Face control … Almost everything. Shag me and forget! If you can …

In other words, A Hu-Li flagellates the middle-aged intelligentsia who answer her siren’s call. She likes riding her bike, loves Nabokov, and is still a bit hung up about being a virgin. Pretty typical right?

How about this? A Hu Li is a 2,000-year-old, shape-shifting werefox from ancient China who uses her bushy tail to hypnotize men and absorb their life force. That grab ya? The title of Victor Pelevin’s latest is The Sacred Book of the Werewolf, the increasingly intriguing A-Hu Li is our narrator, and the book has little to do with anything I’ve just written. A Hu-Li is a member of a race of werefoxes who appear to be 15-year-old girls, when they are in fact neither. They cannot die; do not bathe; and never need to eat food, as long as they can feed on the sexual energy of the "naked apes" they have been doomed to interact with for seemingly all eternity. Their tails enable them to sap the energy of their prey while convincing them that they are fulfilling their greatest sexual fantasies. As such, they gravitate toward sex work, and have since time immemorial. Naturally, thousands of years doing the same thing as civilizations rise and fall can leave an immortal netherworld creature cynical and with a lot of time on her hands. Our narrator fills it by seeking enlightenment. Might as well.

Until she meets Alexander, that is, a Wagner-addicted werewolf who ranks high in the Russian Secret Service. What follows is one of the most hilarious and horrific courtships to come out of the former bloc. But guess what? The Sacred Book of the Werewolf isn’t about that, either.

Victor Pelevin may be a literary genius. He is definitely a tricky malcontent. He has written one of the most spiritually satisfying novels ever about wily werefoxes, interspecies sex, kleptocracy, and the joys of methamphetamines. In fewer than 400 pages, he manages touch on the finer points of sages from Nietzsche to Lao Tzu as A-Hu Li and Alexander seek the highest state of their kind … super werewolf. Sound silly? That’s because it is. It’s also pretentious, perverse, puerile, and exasperating. Yet none of that stops it from saving your sullied soul. Sticky fur and a dash of satori — what more could you ask for on Halloween … candy?