THE VERTICAL SMILE by Richard Condon


Email this review


An aerosol canned satire directed at just about every disfigurement of contemporary America beginning with sex (""Sex had become the boring, overtoppling design for human life"") and heading up toward politics, the church, you name it. Those who remember Mr. Condon as a staggering storyteller will have to look elsewhere. What there is of it concerns one Funky Dunc Mulligan, a long out of work lawyer, and his hopes of becoming a Senator. However his youth image is sadly jeopardized by the fact that his mother-in-law, Ada, as insatiable at 68 as she was at 18, is spending her afternoons exercising with one Osgood Noon. Her offspring are determined to break up the affair -- perhaps ship them off to Pitcairn Island -- but this becomes unnecessary when Funky Dunc's wife divorces him as a ""rubber freak"" and he is charged with blowing up a bank. Pete Hamill called Condon a ""practitioner of the fiction of information"" -- never more justified than here in the endlessly dull specifications: ""Wearing blue bedsocks knitted by a tricoteuse in the Rue du Rhone, Geneva"" et al. et al. et al. Very readable it's not (although it is a Literary Guild selection) and you surface wondering on what side of the face that vertical smile will be worn.

Pub Date: Sept. 30th, 1971
Publisher: Dial