THE MOUNTAIN KING by George Ernsberger


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The Mountain King is both a great stone face on a mountain two hours outside of Manhattan and the gigantic 25-year-old monarch of a nest of 200 rattlesnakes now waking in the cave that forms the mouth of that great stone face. One spring weekend a gaggle of Manhattan couples arrives to take over some houses they've bought from an estate--and the houses sit right under the Mountain King's viperous mouth. A storm on the vacation weekend loosens the rattlers' winter cave, and a landfall spills numberless half-awake snakes all over the houses. The couples inside are self-centered types connected with advertising--two married couples, an actress (with friend) who has slept with both married husbands, and a pair of homosexuals who have lived together for 20 years. They are perhaps meant to suggest a human snake pit. Two or three of their face-offs with rattlers in dark rooms have their faint chills, and the lore of snakes is catchy but bumblingly fed into the dialogue. All told, these snotty folks and their woes are about as attractive as a Draino cocktail spiked with Clorox. You couldn't care less who gets bitten, aside from the baby, the kitty, and the dogs.

Pub Date: Aug. 21st, 1978
Publisher: Morrow