An erratic but highly original first novel that sends up the American Dream through riotously and relentlessly scatological...

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FIRST BORN OF AN ASS

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

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Watermark (149 N. Broadway, Wichita, KS 67202)

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1989