THE MIDNIGHT EXAMINER by William Kotzwinkle


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Two veteran novelists have now used supermarket tabloids as their springboard for comedy; last year Donald Westlake (Trust Me On This), this year Kotzwinkle. While Westlake's novel was grounded in the weird story assignments, with Kotzwinkle the tabloids are simply a background for a very New York caper in which the writers live through situations as wacky as their headlines, a conceit insufficient to nourish a full-length novel. Narrator Howard Halliday is editor-in-chief of Manhattan-based Chameleon Publications; publisher Nathan Feingold's sleazy empire includes Knockers, Macho Man and Young Nurse Romance, as well as the eponymous Midnight Examiner. The small editorial staff is able to churn them all out by duplicating each other's stories. Howard's troubles begin when Fernando from the Art Department paints a monstrous mural in his apartment and uses Mitzi Mouse, owner of the most formidable breasts in New York, as his model. Mitzi is a porn actress and aspiring poet; her producer/boss is gangster Tony Baloney. When she accidentally shoots (but doesn't kill) him and flees to the Chameleon offices, the staff goes onto a war footing. The three pursuing goombahs are felled--respectively, by a fishhook, a poison dart, and a boomerang--and then permanently immobilized by the Haitian Madame Veronique, in return for ten years of free advertising of her voodoo products. Later, when Mitzi is kidnapped, publisher Nathan has manic Egyptian cabby Uqual Mussa drive the staff to Baloney's Long Island estate. Luckily for them, the mobster has a wimpy son who dreams of being a writer; Baloney agrees to release Mitzi on condition they hire his son and take him off his hands. It's a deal. Distinctly minor Kotzwinkle, despite some snappy wordplay and choreography.

Pub Date: April 17th, 1989
ISBN: 395-49859-7
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
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