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 An ambitious third novel about the intersection of power and desire, by the author of Easy Travel to Other Planets (1981) and Traffic and Laughter (1990). Here, as in those earlier works, Mooney focuses on the distortions and dislocations of a world increasingly divided into two camps: those with money and influence, and those without either. Santiago D°az, a Mexican soccer star now running for the presidency of that embattled country, becomes entranced in New York by a couple so consumed with passion that they make love in public while he's giving a speech. D°az, a bright, somewhat laconic, troubled man, fearful that he's becoming ``a benign impostor of something he had once intended to be,'' finds the spontaneous nature of the act enticing, and he seeks out and befriends the couple. Edith works as a translator at the UN; Andrew is an estate attorney. They find D°az's attention both flattering and somewhat baffling. There's some degree of passion involved: D°az, happily married to Mercedes, equally bright and ambitious, is nonetheless drawn to Edith. A friend recruits Andrew and Edie to help stage a promotional event featuring D°az on the US-Mexican border, and their innocent actions further a plot aimed at destroying him. Mooney shares with writers like Robert Stone and Bob Shacochis a fascination with unraveling American responsibilities for the state of the Third World. Edie and Andrew, in a violent climax, have to face their own complicity in a system that uses force to preserve the status quo. But while Mooney moves the story handily along and writes with clarity and vigor, his characters never become either persuasively complex or particularly interesting. They remain types, and the climax as a result seems unsurprising and flat. Mooney clearly has strong ideas about the reasons for the world's dilapidated state, but this time out his ideas take precedence over his tale, producing an instructive but curiously unegaging novel.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-679-41692-7
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1998