MUMMY by Daniel Curley


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The pun in the title gives a good indication of the strained sense of humor at play in this pointless novel by the author of six previous works of fiction, including the 1985 Flannery O'Connor Award winner, Living with Snakes. After seven years in a Mexican jail for a crime he didn't commit, Marc Williams discovers that his mother has been mummified. Seven years earlier, the loyal son had headed south of the border--where his mother shopped for art and artifacts for her store in Alpha, Illinois--to pick up her dead body. Instead, he was arrested for cocaine smuggling--a cache that may have been a legacy from dear old mom. On the outside again, his search for her Mexican grave leads him to the famous mummies of Guanajuato, Guanajuato (""as in New York, New York""), a display he soon robs of one leathery old gal whom he hopes to bring back home for a proper burial. With the body disguised in a suit of armor (nicknamed ""Don Q""), and strapped down on the roof of a hot Buick (nicknamed ""Rosinante""), Williams (nicknamed ""Bills,"" not ""Sancho"") delays his border crossing since the federales, the CIA, and the Mexican Mafia all seem to be watching his every move. Disguised as a tourist named ""Roe--or, Doe,"" he narrowly avoids being a human sacrifice, among other things, and meets up with a strange priest who practices witchcraft, dumb fishermen who think the mummy a saint, and a salty captain who arranges transport by sea. In the US, after being held captive on a radical feminist separatist commune, Bills finds his omega in Alpha (""Home is where the end is""), his mother's remains accidentally pulverized and scattered in the wind. Self-consciously ""mythic,"" this manic quest never transcends the bad joke that sets it in motion, nor the one-liners (e.g., ""He didn't know a Buick Electra from a Toyota Orestes"") that litter its path.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1987
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin