ANCIENT LIGHTS by Davis Grubb

ANCIENT LIGHTS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A woolly, punning, pastel-tinted eschatological fantasy--in which Grubb (The Night of the Hunter and others) pulls out all the stops, writing a gnostic, revisionist-Christian slam-bang-arama with the what-the-hell and why-not freedom of a dying man. (Grubb died in 1980.) The narrator is a young woman named Fifi Leech, daughter of West Virginia millionaire Sweeley Leech, a new Messiah. Sweeley's nothing if not up to date (it's 1992): Christ sounds too stuffy, so Sweeley trumpets a gospel called ""Criste Lite."" To give to the poor, he ""unrobs"" a Manhattan bank, pouring huge, computer-busting sums into the small accounts of working stiffs. So, eventually, the powers-that-be--a world government called TRUCAD--try to stop Sweeley, and what little, attenuated plot there is here thus involves the complications that arise from the Sweeley/TRUCAD duel: there's a miracle jewel called ""Face-to-Face,"" a pleasure palace named Le Pet au Diable, a rampaging TRUCAD terror organization made up only of women (the Goody Two-Shoes), a disciple of Sweeley's known as Fu Manchu, and--ultimately--an electric crucifixion. Admittedly, all this has the staying power of cotton candy. But the little satiric barbs--the perquisites of future-set fiction--are frequently delicious. Grubb knowingly lashes through the publishing world. (E.g., in order to bury the truths of Sweeley's Criste Lite gospel, TRUCAD has it mass-published and awarded the Nobel Prize.) He offers fiendishly hip culture-comments--like a Broadway theater marquee announcing an Albee/Sondheim adaptation of the work of Otto Rank: ""The Perfumed Catheter."" He delivers epigrams sure to be savored in savvy urban circles: ""Back of every small-town faggot, she said, stands a good church alto."" And on and on it goes, to 500+ pages, seemingly impelled by some private, spit-into-the-wind imp: a posthumous gesture that combines an opened palm of benediction with a raised middle finger--in a totally untidy, flakily redemptive book that's a likely contender for Manhattan-based cult popularity.

Pub Date: May 3rd, 1982
Publisher: Viking