HIDALGO'S BEARD: A California Fantasy by Conger Beasley

HIDALGO'S BEARD: A California Fantasy

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KIRKUS REVIEW

West-Coast silliness, with a few engaging moments. Young Navvy Daves has turned into a fish-like creature complete with gills and green skin--and he considers this metamorphosis an act of will. His father disagrees, as do local doctors, who see it as just another case of an increasingly evident Southern California endocrine disorder, Evtuffel Syndrome. One doc even has a palliative treatment for it, but such tampering with his Self is anathema to Navvy: ""You can't stand the fact that I might be autonomous! You want me to be a victim, like all the other victims. . ."" So he escapes science's clutches and makes his way down to Mexico, where, in Ensenada, he's supposed to find a message that awaits him, secreted inside the beard of a statue of Hidalgo. When he gets there, though, it seems that this and other town statues, having been pulled down, roll nightly through the streets, and Navvy's task is to stop the rolling heads long enough to get the message. All this improbability and feyness does allow Beasley to write entertainingly enough about Castaneda-like Indians, glider flights, film directors, and assorted interesting-characters-I-have-met. But these are just diddling digressions in a sometimes pretentious, sometimes foolish cartoon version of Kafka; for a genuine exploration of acts of will and metamorphoses, read William Wharton's Birdy.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1979
Publisher: Andrews & McMeel