THE BREADFRUIT LOTTERIES by Richard Elman

THE BREADFRUIT LOTTERIES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Robert Harmon, a Columbia prof, doesn't get to spend even one whole day with his girlfriend on vacation in Jamaica before. . . they're separated, the girlfriend is put back on a plane for home, and Harmon is charged with being an accessory to an assassination attempt on Michael Manley, the prime minister. It's more than a trump-up, though, more than a mistake: once in custody Harmon is wooed by just about every clandestine intelligence organization imaginable--the CIA, the Cubans, Israel's Mossad, the South African Special Branch--although the wooing doesn't at first seem all too polite. (Showed photos of his girl in flagrante delicto with a rich planter, Harmon throttles the bloke, doing one Cuban spy's work for him on another Cuban spy.) And so it goes. Elman attempts to cut the writhing obviousness of this nest of snakes with literary flourishes and hard-boiled-isms, perhaps wanting a left-wing counterpart to William Buckley's novels about the Company; but there isn't much snap intrinsic to the material at all. And though the Jamaicans, in dialect and simple dignity, come off well, they only serve to highlight the pettiness of Harmon's shock (how dare they manipulate an academic!), which shrivels down past peripheral and into plain silly. Routine, thin CIA-isms, then, only barely brightened by Elman's mannered literary gloss.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Methuen