THE FLIGHT OF THE PELICAN by John Hopkins

THE FLIGHT OF THE PELICAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Jonathan Bradshaw is a 42-year-old ne'er-do-well whose only real job has been a brief stint selling socks at Brooks Brothers--and who has lived the rest of his eternal adolescence dependent on the goodwill and pity of family, friends. . . and women intrigued by his boyish fatuity. But then, when it's discovered that Jonathan's father Ben, missing for 25 years (having simply sailed off in his boat The Pelican), has been sighted at last, Jonathan is galvanized: in a flash he's off to the harbor in Puerto Gusano, the any-Latin, mock-country where the novel is set. What Jonathan finds there, however, is the magnificent chief of police, Umberto Hak, a confidence man on a grand scale--and Hopkins' best creation. Hak, it turns out, bears Jonathan's father a grudge--for encouraging an oil refinery that has despoiled the harbor and disrupted the sleepy port society (and for running away with Hak's wife Marie). So Hak's unstable, perhaps even murderous behavior makes it prudent for Jonathan to head for the bush, still hoping to find Ben. And Ben is indeed found--but dying (of yaws), attended by Marie and a trained ape named Adam: after his death, there's a funeral in Puerto Gusano, with--at the whimsical close--a grandiloquent, full-of-lies, and blackmailing eulogy by Hak. Jonathan's naivete and Hak's baroque cynicism do make a nice complement. Otherwise, however, there's not much to this novel: Hopkins (Tangier Buzzless Flies) patches together its parts rather than developing them--some prep-school/surreal humor here, some outlandish adventure there. In sum: lively enough, but less than coherent and hardly biting.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1984
Publisher: North Point