A GARDEN OF STONES by M. M. Parker

A GARDEN OF STONES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Parker (Big Phil's Kid) is, in one respect, from the Henny Youngman school of comedy: he fires out the gags nonstop and indiscriminately, good and bad and really rotten, hoping that a few will score. And a few do in this lumpy little farce ingenuously narrated by dumb-smart Balto Mainstreet, a dump-trucker who meets up with tycoon Sam Nathan because both guys have the same hobby: joining in strangers' funeral processions on N.Y.'s Long Island Expressway. Soon Balto and Sam have concocted a scheme to import pumice on Sam's ships, which usually return from Europe half-empty anyway. And helpful Balto also does strongarm errands for Sam: dumping a truckful of salt on a one-man picket line down on the docks; going to Boston to rid Sam's comely niece Tilzie of her pusher boyfriend. (While there Balto meets Buckmeister Lovely, a Senatorial candidate who walks on all fours and has a fervent homosexual following.) But then there's trouble abroad with the pumice operation, so Balto (after a visit to loony Dr. Clap) must go to Sicily--where he's kidnapped by a restaurateur; does some matchmaking between an earthy labor leader and her escaped-Nazi fiancÉ Primo Provoleno (""You know, Herr Balto, we Italians have got a soft spot for die kinder""); meets a cynical priest named Father Mother; and discovers Tilzie posing as the local mystical oracle in a cave. Silly, silly stuff--sometimes vulgar, occasionally tedious--but Parker does get a few good semi-Runyonesque laughs out of Balto's dumbness and his renowned ""sincerity"" (which usually takes the form of breathtaking insults). Choppy.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Dodd, Mead