SUMMIT by D.M. Thomas


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A jape by Thomas (The White Hotel, 1981) along the lines of his portrait of a Reagan-like, deaf, bumbling President in the previous Swallow (1984). Here, US President O'Reilly comes to Geneva to summit with the new dynamic Soviet leader, Grobichov. Grobichov brings along both wife and daughter (he sleeps with both), while O'Reilly is escorted by wife Wanda--a pinup girl 40 years ago and lately the subject of admitted sexual peccadilloes. The basic joke revolves around mishearings and mispeakings--beginning with an offer by O'Reilly to the Soviets to sell them IUDs, which the American defense establishment is under the impression stands for Independant Unilateral Defense, a Star Wars system. Things get sillier still when Grobichov thinks he's being offered the entire State of California by the foggy O'Reilly; and only some aparatchik paranoia and dissent blow the whole meeting to bits. Second-rate bedroom farce intervenes (wife-switching), but Thomas --as well as the reader--does have some genuine fun with the proposition that what we see happening on the nightly news and what actually goes on behind closed doors in Geneva are wildly divergent matters indeed.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Viking