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Reamy, who started publishing wonderful science-fiction stories about five years ago, must have had plenty of good novels in him when he died last November at the age of 42, but all he left was this unsatisfying first attempt at full-length fiction. Haverstock's Traveling Curiosus and Wonder Show, which arrives in sleepy Hawley, Kansas, one dusty afternoon circa 1930, is an inexplicable mixture of transparent fakes and apparently genuine human-animal hybrids. Most inexplicable of all are Angel, the mute albino who demonstrates mastery of the Four Elements in a symphony of earthquakes and lightning bolts, and Haverstock himself, with his strange hold over his stable of creatures. Of three town girls who attend the first night's show, one is seized by a ruttish passion for a roustabout, one is raped and killed by Haverstock's cretinous Minotaur, and one helps the tormented Angel to escape from his master. Reamy has often dealt--at his best, in intense first-person narration--with the violent and sexually bizarre; here he makes two grave mistakes. The first is the Depression setting: one of those studious appliquÉs of period details. The second and more damaging is the plodding exposition, which aims to be a low-keyed counterpoint to the grotesqueness of the material but succeeds only in being at odds with it. Disappointing, sadly so.

Pub Date: Sept. 5th, 1978
ISBN: 0809533081
Publisher: Putnam