WARLOCK by Jim Harrison


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Johnny Lundgren, 42, was dubbed ""Warlock"" as a Boy Scout; and he has recently chosen to re-take the nickname for no appreciable reason except that he occasionally bewitches himself into ludicrous situations. He lives in Traverse City, Michigan, with sexy, candid, smart wife Diana (a nurse), an Airedale, and no job--since his fast-off-the-blocks career in business as a middle-manager came to naught. So now ""Warlock"" hangs around the house fighting lust and torpor, experimenting with oddities (usually over-spiced) for dinner. And he's fast becoming a shambly sort of failure-philosophe of some charm. So far so good. In fact, aside from an excess of self-deprecating winsomeness on Warlock's part, this portrait of a man at looser-than-loose ends is Harrison's most congenial fictional creation since Farmer (1976). The trouble--for the book, that is--starts when Warlock is offered something to do: a job as a sort of spy/private-investigator in the employ of an inventor/ doctor/wacko named Rabun. He takes off to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to stop a ring that's stealing from Rabun's lumber holdings, then down to Key West to check out possible embezzlement by Rabun's wife and son. And though Warlock in action continues to be hapless and humiliated, he's also the sort of patsy who is ultimately victorious by patsying someone else in turn. So, like the unpleasant revenge novellas Harrison showed last time out, Legends of the Fall, there's an unsavory, misogy-nistic, callow, and enormously self-congratulatory tone here which makes the book's jokes feel forced and leering: the comedy dines primarily off meanness, making it more conducive to smirks than laughs. Warlock at leisure, then, is amusing. But thrown into action, with Harrison's huff-puffing macho sensibility in full gear, he goes downhill drastically.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1981
ISBN: 0385291345
Publisher: Delacorte