COCKATRICE by Wolf Mankowitz


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The cockatrice, in case you don't remember, is a mythical monstrous serpent; its ""breath was deadly, its glare fatal to human beings"". It has been chosen here as an ""appropriate heraldic beast"" for the film industry and for this title, tagged on the jacket as the most ""candid novel"" since Schulberg's Sammy. You can call it candid, otherwise known as frankly filthy; but it is as well a clever and outre-geous satire with occasional sequences and some very funny lines. They are worded by Danny Pisarov, acolyte and amanuensis to a famous producer, Borian, whose latest sexpot-artiste is Mignon-- her ""box-office figures were currently causing the New Waves to uncurl"". While Borian is away, Danny decides to play with his kitten in a projected film of The Vision of Maria Baldi (the best since Bernadette; ""that Sicilian doll who had a big moment in a grotto""). None of this comes off, and it's certainly just as well, but the book does, and perhaps best as a ribald replacement for One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding. If you've any vestigial moral inhibitions or religious sensibilities, (Q, Q, Q, Q, Q, Q) this is not for you; and it's sure to be black-listed from Boston to Rome.

Publisher: Putnam