HOTEL MALABAR by Brendan Galvin


Email this review


The only indication that this fine short story is a narrative poem is its arrangement into segments on the page, and an occasional —poetic— flourish—a zingy phrase or an added-on image. In any case, Galvin’s Iowa Poetry Prize—winning volume flows along like the good mystery it is: Three FBI agents are undercover at a hotel on Cape Cod in the mid-’70s, trying to figure out what its owner was up to years before in Central America—years that brought him considerable wealth. Over a dozen or so sections are spoken in the voices of the major characters, each of whom Galvin distinguishes with a syntax and vocabulary all their own, from the slangy Chief Op, who sprinkles his prose with allusions to all the great spies of the past, to A. Norton Palin himself, the garrulous hotelier in his anecdotage, rambling on about misadventures and revealing the horrible truth—only for it to become irrelevant. A first-rate yarn that insists on its status as poetry.

Pub Date: March 6th, 1998
ISBN: 0-87745-597-X
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: Univ. of Iowa
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1998