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CITY OF TRUTH by James Morrow


by James Morrow

Pub Date: May 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-312-07672-X
Publisher: St. Martin's

Morrow continues to mine his deep but narrow vein (love/hate, lies/truth, destruction/rebirth) in this sometimes hilarious, illustrated novella—an oddball counterpart to his earlier novel, The Continent of Lies (1984). In the city of Veritas, every person is brutally conditioned to be not just unable to tell lies but obliged always to tell the whole truth, no matter how stark or droll (bestselling titles: You Can Have Somewhat Better Sex; How to Find a Certain Amount of Inner Peace). Jack Sperry leads a routine life as an art deconstructionist (he destroys ``mendacious'' old works of art) until his beloved son Toby, away at Camp Ditch-the-Kids, is bitten by a rabbit and contracts an invariably fatal disease. Jack becomes obsessed with the idea of healing Toby by psychic means (a no-no in Veritas) and becomes involved with Martina, an attractive woman who seems to be able to lie at will. Through Martina, Jack discovers Satirev, a secret city below Veritas where people can lie and, thanks to genetic engineering, where pigs have wings and money grows on trees. In Satirev, Toby enjoys a few brief days of intense happiness (including a Christmas celebration, impossible in Veritas), but then he dies. Raspingly satirical black comedy collides with ironic tear- jerker: an incongruous, unsettling amalgam that turns out less effective than either one alone might have done.