JUNGLE WEDDING by Joseph Clark


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Thirteen stories (four published previously), about strange goings-on from the depths of the jungle to the house next door, serve as a hip but not particularly hypnotic debut collection. The title story transports an entire wedding party of New Age gringos to a remote Central American jungle for a shaman-officiated ceremony, accompanied by an ultra-cool video artist hired for the occasion. His vision of the trip—replete with images of a teeming slum, the group’s armored-car escort, and the shaman making a deal with rebels as the party kicks into gear—is clouded by the same hallucinogenic drink the others have imbibed: when he awakens, the party’s over and his tapes are gone, but he still has the last laugh. Altered states have a different effect in “K2,” as a set designer labors long to build a credible mountain on stage, but when the singer of a washed-out punk band brought in for the final all-night push dies from an overdose, the designer gains a new perspective on his work. In “Mammals,” another band is tuning up for a gig on Nantucket, but a spat between one of the members and his wife over (what else?) drugs sends her to the beach, where she finds a dying dolphin in the dark and tries to save it. —Public Burning,— a variation on the Truman movie theme, features a sociology grad student who mounts 24-hour surveillance on a family renting the house next door. His own all-American family has a few kinks, however, as Mom masturbates upstairs while Dad’s in the basement with his arsenal, getting ready for the day the feds come after him for not paying his taxes. Needless to say, when he finds a camera in the wall, all hell breaks loose. Some tantalizing moments here, but most of these tales come up short in conveying character. It’s not encouraging when a dead dolphin has more depth than the people around it.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-393-04526-9
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1998