Lucas's best stories (Evenings at Mongini's, 1991) found a beauty and human grace even in the very deepest heart of squalor. In his first novel, however, his earlier talents and considerable energies are writ large, not small: in the broad strokes of this ambitious satire that takes on an entire century's depravity and greed. When poor but handsome Laszlo Gabor (born 1957) grows up in the south end of London, he thinks that the poor but sexy Hungarian ÇmigrÇ Maya Gabor really is his mother. By book's and Laszlo's end, however, when Laszlo isn't even 30, he'll not only know that Maya isn't his mom, but he'll know plenty more about the way the crime- driven, sex-drenched, and coincidence-packed world of his family background has really wagged. Things get moving when Laszlo takes a job at the First Nagaski and Waikiki Trust in London, and when Maya's current lover--the charmingly crank Hindu mystic, Bunny Selveratnam--heads for America (known here as Terra-stricken) to make his way as a messiah. In Hollywood (a.k.a. Honkeyville), Bunny falls into the clutches of aged sex idol and film star Medusa O'Toole and her even more aged lover and producer, Sham Shilverman- -a duo through whose ``influence'' Bunny (he's a professional regurgitator) becomes a smuggler of hot properties (swallowed, then delivered) for the international crime-and-finance ring known as Spillano Garbage. While Bunny edges closer to his doom, and Spillano Garbage secretly leverages out First Nag and Waik Trust, our rising hero Laszlo becomes a jet-setter on the lam, eventually finding (and how) his real mom and dad, and discovering that his family line goes back through Medusa O'Toole to Teddy Roosevelt (a.k.a Tusker Ruseveldt) and, through one Princess Lola D'Aoili, to Mussolini (``the most powerful cock in Italy''). Candide and Tom Jones repackaged as comic apocalypse for the late 20th century: ingeniously and remarkably inventive, but be prepared, too, for the numbing effect of the long cartoon.