A MASK FOR THE GENERAL by Lisa Goldstein


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Weird, endearing alternate-world/near-future yarn from the author of The Dream Years (1985). The near-future US, having suffered political and economic collapse, is now ruled by a dictator, General Gleason. With spies, informers, and secret police everywhere, there is little organized opposition: the underground is a rabble of would-be revolutionaries: the tribes wear animal masks, believe They have animal-souls in an animal-spirit universe, and eschew violence. Young, restless Mary, secretly an epileptic (she controls it with black-market drags), meets Layla, a dreamy, outspoken, fearless master maskmaker; Layla agrees to make Mary a mask. impressionable Mary is so taken by the mask that, only half seriously, she asks Layla to apprentice her. Layla agrees; but then Layla takes Mary into the animal-spirit world. Mary, frightened, rejects the vision and her apprenticeship (though the bond cannot be broken, Layla tells her). Layla decides to make a mask for the General; once he puts it on, according to Layla, he will come in contact with his animal-self and thus discard his evil ways. She completes the mask, but then she and Mary are arrested and sent to prison camp, where they become spiritually estranged. Meanwhile, the mask progresses from hand to hand upwards through the bureaucracy, finally reaching the General, who wonders at its eerie beauty and power. Absorbing, quietly impressive, thoughtful work--welcome evidence of Goldstein's steady improvement as a clear-eyed fantasist of depth, range and charm.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Bantam