In this 1979 novel Jerzy projects himself into the role of errant knight polo player Fabian. Aging seducer of young girls, wandering the country in his camper/stable on wheels, looking for polo matches or a short teaching gig, with occasional diversions into sex clubs and pre-op transsexuals.
Fabian’s main problem is that he’s too good at the game for his own good. So good in fact that no one will play with him or against him. Kosinski repeats this theme in 1982’s PINBALL, only in that case it’s an aging composer who was too good for his own good. It might be argued that Kosinski considered his writing to be too good, or at least too far over the heads of most readers. I think most writers feel that at some point in their careers, though almost none of them can back that sentiment up with a masterpieces like THE PAINTED BIRD or BEING THERE.
That is of course the problem with most of Kosinski’s books; They are only very good. Always people look back to his crowning glories and ask, “why isn’t this new book that great?”
I enjoyed this book. It was at points more cynical and conversely more romantic than I expected. I like being surprised. One difficulty I imagine some readers would have is not knowing, or at least not believing, that a polo player would illicit such lust in the hearts of women. Well, then you’ve never known a young female equestrian. I lost more than one object of desire to the visiting polo scoundrel, so no suspension of disbelief was required on my part.
One of the things I did not like were some of the more tediously drawn out sex scenes. I think Kosinski was aware of this and worked on it because his next book PINBALL has several of the hottest sex scenes I’ve ever read.