FATLIPS by Arnold Wesker


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This turns out to be a story within a story within a story (at least that), but the bad news is that the farther in you get the less it holds together. Playwright Wesker starts out strong, with a magnet character: a mysterious, ugly old man, leaning endlessly over the rail of an emigrant ship, who intrigues and troubles the other passengers by his very silence. One kid, Joel Amersham, is especially attracted to the old man, and after a couple of very quiet demonstrations of clairvoyant power Fatlips winds up in the Amershams' cabin, telling them about his gift of magic and his lifelong search for a similarly gifted soulmate. Having found one through thought communication he's now on his way to her--and the rest is her story, a bizarre one involving floating pregnant through space, living with men she doesn't love, and helping natives of a remote island build a reservoir. In the end there's a hint that Joel Amersham has magic too, and a peak moment in which Fatlips sends him flying ecstatically through the air. But that too-easy conclusion doesn't live up to the early promise of originality, and in any case it doesn't bring the different parts together.

Pub Date: Oct. 11th, 1978
Publisher: Harper & Row