CAPTAIN MAXIMUS by Barry Hannah

CAPTAIN MAXIMUS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Seven very short stories and one surreal, interminable ""screen treatment"": the thinnest work yet by a writer whose distinctive voice (Geronirno Rex, Airships) has been steadily fading into flashy mannerisms and empty, gothic/satiric juxtapositions (Ray, The Tennis Handsome). The Captain of the title is one of Hannah's familiar hero-figures, a wounded macho man who slides back and forth between surly bravado (""I am on the black and chrome Triumph, riding right into your face"") and hear-on-sleeve sentimentality (""the closeness with my children has come back to a heavenly beauty""). In similar, more-or-less autobiographical sketches, the first-person narrator here gets drunk, shares drugs and sex With a famine fatale (""I was lonely, angry, and my need was deep""), recalls a friend's suicide, laments a lost love (""I really wish she'd read this and write me a letter""), and indulges in writerchat. (""I had gone out to Montana mainly to meet Richard Hugo, and to pal around with my buddies Tom and Laurie McGuane. . . Oh, it was wonderful. McGuane is a giant in heart and body, and where are you giants anymore?"") Only two stories--about a middle-aged fisherman's doomed quest for ""the big one,"" about a football hero's demonic aggressions--even attempt something beyond alter-ego posturings. And ""Power and Light,"" a film treatment ""written for Robert Altman,"" strings together Seattle vignettes and images involving electricity, water, threatening letters, lesbianism, boats, and walruses. (""Behold the isolated walrus on a rock island! What is a walrus, what in hell is a walrus, anyway?"") According to the Village Voice blurb here, Hannah is ""the new in writer for the literary upper classes""--but this time the emperor's new clothes are more transparent than ever, perhaps even transparent enough for the ""literary upper classes"" to notice that something's (everything's) missing.

Pub Date: May 13th, 1985
Publisher: Knopf