THE YEAR OF THE MONGOOSE by William Hogan

THE YEAR OF THE MONGOOSE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Hogan's engaging, warmly comic first novel, The Quartzsite Trip, was one of last year's most impressive debuts. But this second book is a very different, very disappointing sort of comedy: a tired, toothless, virtually plotless satire on the network-TV biz, heavy on sophomoric lampoons, cartoon stereotypes, clichÉd comments, and ""inside""-info that will be old-hat to any TV Guide reader. ""The Mongoose,"" obviously modeled on super-programmer Fred Silverman (cf. Up the Tube, p. 974), is super-crude Karl Stanislavky, prez of FBC's Entertainment Division--and Hogan follows him, more or less, through one season (supposedly TV's last year ever). He develops a comedy series about lesbians called ""The Odd Sisters'--to be sponsored by INSERTION, a new tampon with a singing commercial that features marching women who fire ""a thousand penis-shaped tampons into the mid-Manhattan skies."" He okays a musical-movie version of a serious, futuristic novel by college prof Deeter Moss (an in-jokey, recycled Quartzsite character). Meanwhile, however, coldly sexual manipulator Linda Ashley, VP for Comedy Development, is using oral sex to win over the Chairman of the Board; and she's developing a series called ""The Flying Priest,"" which will eventually replace the disastrous ""Odd Sisters."" Hogan's mock titles--""Lesbos Island,"" ""Lust Boat,"" ""My Mother the Stunt Car""--give you an idea of the limp level of parody here. And the absence of a story-line is hardly concealed by attempts at inside-TV montage: disjointed scenes involving crass agents, sell-out writers, ratings, sponsors, affiliates, audience-research, cocaine, etc. But, worst of all, Hogan not only dishes out the dustiest critical platitudes (""They were dealing in dreams""; ""All that was left . . . were users and those they used"") but also intones, over and over, pseudo-Vonnegut catchphrases: ""It was ever thus. And so went the wars."" The only marginally original item here, in fact, is the book's wincingly foolish punchline: the supposed end of all network TV. As for the rest, it's all been done better and funnier before--in fiction and non-fiction, from Ron Powers to Michael J. Arlen and dozens of others--and admirers of The Quartzsite Trip should look the other way if they want to preserve their impression of Hogan as a promising new fiction talent.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1981
Publisher: Atheneum