Email this review


Wright has hit upon a device that sounds cumbersome but works--although not well enough to save his novel from a lack of urgency. His hero, Morley, a college dean turned 50, is depicted as a complex of interior voices. One, of course, is the dean, but there is also the boss, increasingly in charge of Morley; the manager, who runs things; the narrator, who tells Morley who he is, where he has been, and where he is going; the reader, who keeps tabs on the narration; and, among others, the warring personal voices of the mother, father, sister, brother, and wife. There is also, long dormant but lately revived, the voice of the ""boy king,"" usurped by the boss yet now, disturbingly, putting in his two-cents worth. They all add up to Morley at middle age, and, no doubt, to many people who have lived long enough to accumulate a noisy cast of personae. It is essentially a comic device, which Wright fails to use to great comic purpose. Instead, he spends too much time on the boy king's favorites--among them opera singers, sports figures, a train, and a ferry boat--which form the mythology of the book's title. There are moments when his strange vehicle gets into high gear and covers some fresh, provocative territory, but, in the long run, Wright wastes an excessive amount of gas idling the motor.

Pub Date: March 2nd, 1977
Publisher: Harper & Row