GERALD'S PARTY by Robert Coover
Kirkus Star


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Here, in Coover's familiar pitched-to-the-snapping point intensity of cut-and-splice rhetoric, a drunken house party does service as modern-day Dionysian orgy, complete with sex, murder, torture, theater, atavism, and a good bit of theorizing on same woven in among the atrocities. The first guest to be found dead (of a puncture wound in the breast) is Ros, actress in pornographic theater and love-idol to many men, not least among them Gerald, host of the party (he remembers, among many other things, ""the soft silky almost phantasmal touch of her finger as she slipped it dreamily up your anus""). Ros' death brings in the cops (pot-bellied and not too bright) who kill her grief-crazed husband, Roger, while ""interrogating"" him behind closed doors in Gerald's study. Meanwhile the party goes on in the rest of the house, with gags, whoops, asides, analytic digressions, numerous couplings in the sewing room, and more deaths, torturings, etc., not to mention the darkest goings-on (never wholly revealed) in the basement rec room. Perhaps most notable among the dead are aesthetician and artist Tania, who is drowned in the tub, and blocked writer Vic, who is shot by a bumbling cop, then put out of his misery by friend and host Gerald--himself just recovering from the painful penis captivus he suffered while depriving the dead man's teeny-bopper daughter of her virginity, an event captured on videotape by the roving theater crew, who Shortly afterward shift into high gear and get everything on tape, finally even setting up a stage for a new production in the ravaged living room, where Ros' long-dead and much-abused body still lies. And much more. Coover's dazzling verbal energy never for a moment flags, and yet the book itself labors on only grindingly; this ambitious satire of alienated emotion in the shallow crassness of a television age takes on, in the end, the fierce glibness of its own target, and its hyperactive banality.

Pub Date: Jan. 10th, 1985
ISBN: 0802135285
Publisher: Linden/Simon & Schuster