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Awkward hybrid of thriller, farce, and environmental polemic. After two treatments of his relationship with his charismatic father Yul (a novel, The Ballad of Habit and Accident, 1980; Yul: The Man Who Would Be King, 1989), Brynner offers a comically improbable, name-dropping spoof involving a New York commercial publishing house reluctantly deciding to add to its fall list a pop-science eco-diatribe announcing the imminent, and unavoidable, extinction of the human race. Terry Bancroft, a mildly neurotic, Smith College Gen-X editorial assistant who, with two years in the business, has already learned to loath all authors, knows that egghead-penned gloom-and-doomers have uneven track records. But when she glances at the first few pages of the unsolicited manuscript of The Doomsday Report, she finds, of course, that she can’t put it down. When her fatuous boss seems unimpressed by her enthusiasm, Bancroft slips copies to Commonwealth’s backbiting editorial board, where the graying, sincere, conveniently widowed CEO Franco Sherman decides that the book has great potential, especially after the be-ribboned US General Shriever warns him that powerful, unnamed forces want it squelched. News of the irreversible end of life, scheduled for 2050, makes Bancroft ditch her sexually monotonous Capitol Hill boyfriend for Sherman’s perversely paternal advances. Doomsday, naturally, conquers the best-seller lists, inspiring people of every stripe to do wild, wacky, murderous things as the end of the world looms. All of this is wonderfully hilarious, and would be just fine if Brynner didn’t take himself so seriously, swamping his campy satire and insider jokes in a self- indulgent flood of eco-dreck that, we eventually discover, might not be as accurate as it sounds. A witty premise mired in tedious, journalistic pessimism about Mother Nature’s numerous aches and pains. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 4th, 1998
ISBN: 0-688-15919-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1998