An erratic but highly original first novel that sends up the American Dream through riotously and relentlessly scatological means. Gorm, Joyce's hero, is the perennial childhood loser--motherless, unintelligent, bullied by the likes of Pumperdink the Pukeroo and Jism Jack Rogers--until the day he sees a matchbook ad for Charles Atlas and embarks on a body-building course that makes him look like a Nathanael West hero on steroids. His deltoids make him a hero in school and a celebrity throughout his 1950's Pittsburgish town (especially after he spontaneously evolves into a mesmerizing street-corner corset salesman); but he still can't figure out how to develop the member between his legs or kick his obsession with his bowels and their treacherous movements (he swallowed a ball bearing as a child). Finally, when his former babysitter and body-building coach Mrs. Vidoni dies, Gorm lugs her body all over town, scarcely noticing that she's dead, and hangs her excised wart over his weight-lifting bench before strutting his stuff--which he does in a climactic physical-culture contest that confirms Joyce's Swiftian view of human culture. After a darkly, prodigiously inventive opening section, the fantasy gradually hardens into a shock-the-bourgeois mode. Or do Joyce's undeniable gilts just outstay their welcome?
Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1989
Page Count: -
Publisher: Watermark (149 N. Broadway, Wichita, KS 67202)