THE MONARCH by Vassilis Vassilikos


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Ever since Z, the film rather than the book through which Vassilikos is best known here, he's been almost as volatile as Antonioni--skidding across treacherous surfaces, providing present-day props (be it mention of Clifford Irving or Princess Radziwill), and sometimes pausIng for amplification of his favorite themes--Marxism, political dislocation and exile, the duality of the mercenary/ idealist. Coup follows coup in this story of the expatriated monarch of Euphratia, a small Arab-Asiatic kingdom which was put out of business by the Soviet Union, sending its king to a villa in Italy. The narrator, a Greek-Jew named Zebedee, is sent to interview the Monarch--Zebedee is commissioned by a publisher to do a book about him which will be synchronized with his assassination (in other words he will become a real ghost writer). The book will also be synchronized with the film (there's a little literary lesson here spelled success) which will have no casting problem since the Monarch has an all too close look-alike who is, as you might guess, the target of the first bullet. Vassilikos in creating his thriller, corroborates it with more humor than depth. A diversion then, like a house of cards full of up-ended question marks. But there are small pleasures, decorative and devious, on the royal road to nowhere.

Pub Date: May 27th, 1976
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill