THE BALLAD OF HABIT AND ACCIDENT by Rock Brynner

THE BALLAD OF HABIT AND ACCIDENT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An openly autobiographical, awesomely self-indulgent picaresque novel by the son of actor Yul Brynner--who tells (in third and first person, in an assortment of pretentious styles) of his 1960s/1970s angst as Dublin student and boozy, druggy vagabond. Rock (a.k.a. ""Roc"" or ""our hero"" or ""Red-hat the Clown"") decides to be an Atheist: ""this rationale. . . had already pervaded the thick curtains of his psyche, suffused the carpeting of his soul. . . ."" He decides to sell his body to science: ""A chorale of the stifled voices of every soul that ever lived and died arose from every coffin, every bone orchard on the face of the Mother, Earth. A capella, they beseeched him to defend his tenuous claim on his personal residue."" He does badly on a philosophy exam, has a quasi-breakdown, sees his psychiatrist, hangs around Paris, renounces U.S. citizenship, has sex fantasies, tries Swinging London, stars in a play called Opium (a London hit, a Broadway bomb), and wrestles with faith: ""C'MON, GOD, CLIMB DOWN OUT OF YOUR APPLE TREE AND HELP ME! . . . I NEED YOU NOW, GOD. PLEASE PLEASE DON'T BE DEAD. C'MON, GOD, YOU MOTHER FUCKER."" He becomes Red-hat the Clown, goes to the Cannes Festival, forms a rock band, gets it on with gorgeous mogul Perry (""Oh, honey, put it to me. Fill me with your manhood!""), goes through ""every drug listed in the PDR,"" comes down with walking pneumonia, ends up finding both faith (""He could feel God in the making"") and identity: ""A new voice sounded in his ear, detached but not vindictive. That voice, patient reader, was mine: his voice of conscience. The Author."" And along with all this leaden prose, patient reader also has to put up with arch literary allusions, compulsive name-dropping (""Sam Beckett,"" the Burtons, Dali), and musings on being the son of famous, famous Yul. A few glimmers of engagingly mordant irony; otherwise--embarrassing.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1980
Publisher: Wyndham/Simon & Schuster