UNDERGROUND: In Pursuit of B. Traven and Kenny Love by Jonah Raskin

UNDERGROUND: In Pursuit of B. Traven and Kenny Love

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Herein: two devices that ought to be sent to the U. R. Hipp Home for Tired Literary Tricks. First, see, there's this narrator named Jonah Raskin, dig, who makes up arbitrary names for his other characters/friends to shield their identities. Hea-vy. And the selfsame Jonah Raskin uses the cover of writing a biography of B. Traven, the wraithy author of Treasure of Sierra Madre, to play a scribe role in the odyssey of his friend Kenny Love, a Brooklyn-born proto-Yippie who has dived underground after being busted for selling faked IDs and passports in the late Sixties. As befits what in fact is just a combed-out curl of counterculture memoir, Raskin peppers his narrative with actual events--which wouldn't be so bad if the book didn't hug the real like a cat a wall. Kenny Love's incognito escapades, and how they affect friend Jonah, girl Annie, mother Jenny, daughter Gwen, are repetitious and slow; every new name introduced is followed by a long chew of biography. (Raskin is a veritable Joe Friday of a writer: just the facts, ma'am, just the facts.) The Traven business is all smoke, the loose ends, maybe, of a doctoral thesis. So. The Feds are after Kenny. Will they get him? And do we, after this ragged exercise in wheel-spinning, at all care?

Pub Date: April 14th, 1978
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill