CON by M. E. White


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A loose chain of mostly grotesque events which make up the life of one Eddie Finney, a sort of all-purpose, All-American victim figure. There isn't much to him as a character, but his meanderings around the country give White the chance to open closets and overturn rocks from sea to demoralizing sea. Episodes come out of the blue and slide away in an amnesiac haze as Eddie evolves from waif to punk to lowlife comic (a sad clown like his dad and Pagliacci) to scapegoat corpse, and the level of distortion varies sharply from scene to scene. The gruesome, ghost-story ambience at his grandparents is not exactly on a par with coarse satires of such types as the aging cheerleader and the mad patriot, or snatches of beer-can truck-bed realism, or eruptions of floridly bloody surrealist violence: all that seems to matter is that we're kept in recoil, as unrelated to the goings-on as Eddie himself is. While he becomes more sympathetic toward the end, he is never likable; but then liking belongs to a whole realm of humane possibility that this does not entertain. In its place is unqualified hopeless skepticism, and in place of volition only an ominous kind of deja vu.

Pub Date: June 21st, 1972
Publisher: Harper & Row