THE MANY ASPECTS OF MOBILE HOME LIVING by Martin Clark

THE MANY ASPECTS OF MOBILE HOME LIVING

KIRKUS REVIEW

Plausibility flies out the window early on in this black-comic caper about a North Carolina Superior Court judge's walk

on the wild side—in a first novel that actually becomes more credible and absorbing as the complications multiply and the body

count rises.

Evers Wheeling's separation from his embittered wife Jo has him drinking and smoking dope—and makes him easy prey

for Ruth Esther English, a statuesque auto-saleswoman who offers Evers a bribe to finesse the acquittal of her brother Artis,

a career lowlife soon to be tried for cocaine possession. Considering her offer seriously, Evers enlists the aid of his good-

natured, underachieving brother Pascal and their drinking buddies, then heads west to help Ruth and the dim-witted Artis recover

stolen money hidden away by their late father. It's nominally Salt Lake City, but we know we're in Carl Hiaasen country when

Evers falls for forthright black attorney Pauletta Chai (in on the scam); Artis pulls a double-cross; Evers's Jo (remember her?)

is shot to death, and Pascal cheerfully confesses to the crime. The "inverted Jenny" 1918 postage stamp, William Jennings

Bryan, and an "albino charm that seems to grant wishes" are also mixed in—and this engagingly zany novel's last hundred pages

open up one trapdoor after another, as Ruth Esther's "true identity" is revealed, then denied, then left hanging. Once past his

jerry-built narrative’s initial absurdities (which are many, and egregious), Clark settles into a raspy, mocking, matter-of-fact

rhythm that quickly wins back the reader's complicity. The author's characters are both richly grotesque and improbably

credible, and the edgy, horny exchanges between Evers and Pauletta, which are filled with racial gamesmanship and dance right

on the edge of tastelessness, liven things up even further.

The super-high octane plot also brings back memories of Richard Condon's witty thrillers, and melodramatic farces like

the late Tom McHale's all-but-forgotten Farragan's Retreat. But Clark's resourceful misadventurers are all originals. (Book-of-

the-Month Club alternate selection/Quality Paperback Book Club selection)

Pub Date: April 14th, 2000
ISBN: 0-375-40725-1
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2000




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