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The ultimate picaresque stomp and the fourth one (Hind's Kidnap, etc.) of Joseph McElroy's bulbously distended novels -- part mechanics, part mystery or Mystery, part conspiracy, and all too often unintelligible. (Perhaps it is only a question of getting your ""compass-bearing"" which ""is a rhumb line, really not straight at all, a gentle loop from one point of the great circle you were following to another, but in practice a plottable and constant bearing the wheel-watch could hold till you ordered a change."") The rhumb-line here, superficially at least, is a film which has been made by one Cartwright (are his daughter, Jenny, and another young woman, Claire, almost sexual equivalents?) and his collaborator, Dagger DiGorro, who seems to have disappeared while the film itself was destroyed (was there another copy?) although a diary describing the making of the film is also a menace. Particularly to one man. En route, rhumb or otherwise, Cartwright sees and dreams himself as ""a lookout between forces"" and he scampers furiously in ""looping zoom dissolves"" on a universal freeway which not only connects England and his native U.S. but past and present, crossing primeval thresholds (part of the film was made at Stonehenge where Cartwright has his private druid who counsels him to go further). And there are endless ""blips"" and ""shtips"" on revolution (which the druid calls benign violence) and ""energy in process"" and Time and Space and other centrifugal spins. It's convenient to think of Cartwright as a kind of technological Batman with ail his cassettes and cartridges and computers even if ""There's so much more."" Or the book as a hypnagogic blowup of the metaphor of survival even if, after 560 pages, survival no longer seems very important.

Pub Date: Jan. 3rd, 1974
ISBN: 1615608109
Publisher: Knopf