WRAP IT IN FLAGS by Robert Terrall


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This lunatic farce, which is reminiscent of Donald Westlake's recent High Adventure for no-holds-barred madcappery, has been chosen as Penguin's first US fiction to be published as a trade paperback original. It's a safe choice. And it is Terrall's 50th or so novel, the earlier ones having been published under four pseudonyms, the largest number as Brett Halliday. The title stems from a saying by Stefa Salkin in Lublin Days: ""You couldn't sell that fish to the Poles if you wrapped it in flags."" The fish in this novel is the US defense establishment and especially the Pentagon. Symbolically, three million black starlings have begun landing annually in a small postage stamp of Pentagon country in piney-woods Virginia. Enormous campaigns against the birds, including poison sprays, nerve gas, artillery bombardment, and even electrifying the trees like mosquito grids, have left the Pentagon stumped: the birds absorb all punishment. When the Pentagon at last chops down the whole forest, the birds (now grown to nine million) settle on the Pentagon itself as their annual rookery, which creates a stinking avian stew for the defense chiefs. Meanwhile, down in Colombia, a young Army officer by the name of Illuminado Castillo is being groomed as a superstud by the powerful Donna Gabriella Blanco, wife of the nation's new Chairman. Now 40, and a longstanding Book-of-the-Month Club member, Donna Gabriella realizes that she has never had an orgasm, not even from her lover Illuminado, who is only 20. In Washington, girls outnumber men 3-to-1, so why not send Illuminado to the Pentagon's Counter Coup school, where he will also learn the art of orgasm from the local girls, and bring his knowledge back to Donna Gabriella? Once into the Pentagon, however, Illuminado drives the supercomputer mad with chickenbone voodoo and is thought to be an enemy agent, a spy from the evil empire. . . Swallowing as much nonsense as Terrall throws at us, and pitched at such a frantic level as he has chosen to pitch it, may be more frippery than many will want to ingest in one novel. But true madcappers will be happy to drink from this wacky brew.

Pub Date: Jan. 7th, 1985
Publisher: Penguin