Go to Homepage   Frank Corsaro: Kunma


Crescent Blues Book ViewsForge (Hardcover), ISBN 0-765-30472-4

When unorthodox psychotherapist David Sussman takes Laurel Hunt as his new client, readers may be forgiven for wondering whether David is indeed a psychotherapist, and not a Black Mask-style P.I. Lauren possesses the legs, the curves and the wherewithal to qualify as classic pulp fiction femme fatale. She also brings a few problems to the interview: her semi-estranged husband languishes in hospital with an undiagnosed condition; someone murdered his business partner and ripped his tongue out, and Lauren insists on blaming the whole mess on a malevolent supernatural entity.

Book: Glynn marsh alam, cold water corpse
David thinks she's disturbed.

He also thinks she's hot.

She thinks he's hot, too.

It doesn't take long before P.I. (sorry, psychotherapist) and client start clapping more than lustful eyes on each other. Unfortunately, there may be something to Lauren's malevolent entity theory. David's charlatan-psychic pal Ara, to whom David sent Lauren for a consultation, soon turns up with his tongue ripped out. Guided by Peter, another long-time pal with whom David once spent time at an Indian ashram, David discovers that he is the root of Laurel's problems.

David spent a previous incarnation as a Tibetan abbot who schemed to install a protégé in place of the Dalai Lama. The abbot's opponents exposed the scheme and sentenced him to die a horrible death. In addition, the abbot's enemies sexually abused his protégé and ripped out the protégé's tongue. The protégé promised to avenge the abbot's death but failed in his efforts during that lifetime. Taunted as "Kunma" -- soul-stealer -- the protégé returned in this new reincarnation cycle as a supernatural monster, capable of possessing people (Laurel's husband) and still intent on exacting vengeance against the reincarnated versions of the punishers.

The Demon Made Me Do It

Selected Quotes from Kunma by Frank Corsaro:

"Long used to the wayward fare of dead rattlers, stray coyotes, and other small wanderers of this plateau, the sight and smell of human flesh that lingered in their ancestral memories, and even occasionally gratified in this barren hole, would be sure to precipitate a vicious fight within the carrion hosts."

"Dr. Runnicels, Immaculate's chief of staff, literally dripped Southern courtesy."

"Feeling a wave of insecurity, David attempted to swallow a whole matzo ball."

"Catholics as a rule avoid divorce -- unless one of them dies."

"Anita's brown, penetrating eyes never left David's face, except to pour cups of tea."

"The vultures, aware of this supernatural transformation, halted in their flight."

Oh, and Laurel's young son Chris is the new Dalai Lama, but nobody knows it yet.

Cosaro gives the reader quite a lot more like this, all culminating in an incredibly confusing face-off with a pack (it says here) of vultures at the top of a mesa in New Mexico. I say "incredibly confusing," because if I read it aright, at least one of the characters involved manages to be in two places at once. The vultures certainly find it all zoologically confusing. As Corsaro tells us: "the abbot watched dazedly as they rushed like lemurs [sic] toward destruction."

Frank Corsaro serves as artistic director of the Juilliard Opera Center and qualifies a pretty prestigious sort of a fellow -- possibly famous, although, er, I'm not the best judge of that. One concludes that Forge took on this book for the pecuniary allure of Corsaro's prestige, because Kunma failed to persuade this reader that it merits more consideration than it would get at any standard vanity press.

The atrocious writing makes for occasional giggles but more often proves just outright tedious. I would have given up had I not been reading this book for review. The research manages to be both superficial and heavy-handed. The plotting proves risible.

This is shoddy publishing. Of course, publishers publish plenty of bad books for commercial reasons. But handing over their $24.95 gives readers certain rights, including the reasonable expectation that the publisher made at least some effort with the "product." Otherwise, the publisher takes their $24.95 under false pretenses.


John Grant

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