THE MUSK OX PASSION by Thomas York

THE MUSK OX PASSION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A harmless, nicely fringed lunacy featuring one Thomas Byrd, a slightly manic seeker whose suggestive Muskodyssey through Arctic barrengrounds allows author York to take target practice on his favorite stuffed shirts--army brass, the Selective Service System, the RCMP. The uninsultable Byrd, involuntarily estranged from the super-competent, red-haired Madelaine, answers an ad in Macho for a musk ox qiviut-pick. Qiviut, it seems, is the downy underhair of the musk ox, as soft as cashmere and a potent aphrodisiac: the most tormented soul here is a weaver. Byrd's route through the Canadian north is slow and carefully obstructed. He meets Captain Arctic, whose freeze-marked face is less remarkable than his unfortunate two-inch loss to frostbite elsewhere; travels with Jamessee the Eskimo, whose idea of Christian religion is thrustily unorthodox; tangles with strutting Corporal Jaster; and comes across several of Madelaine's cast-offs. Increasingly the qiviut-pick goals become enmeshed with DEW-line allusions, reports of a redhead ahead at the herd, and the Byrd's-eye view of life: ""better to be master of oneself, and all alone, than to play the ambulatory dildo in the land of opportunity."" Even so, he wins back tough Madelaine--in the sack he's a Melter of Snow--and outwits the converging opposition in a circus-y finale with a last-minute escape clause. York has knit together some of this apparently personal material before (see the nonfiction And Sleep in the Woods, p. 235), and some readers will find the early-'70s post-graduate references a bit worn. But even when he's pulling the wool over your eyes, you'll recognize a crafty hand.

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 1978
Publisher: Doubleday