The King of Babylon Shall: Not Come Against You

George P. Garrett, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $24 (352p) ISBN 978-0-15-157554-1
One of our most protean writers, Garrett forsakes the Elizabethan world of Entered From the Sun in this nearly apocalyptic vision of American society. On April 4, 1968, the day Martin Luther King is assassinated in Memphis, two murders, a fire, a grotesque kidnapping, a bank embezzlement and perhaps a suicide take place in the central Florida town of Paradise Springs. The chance to write a book on those events, plus some hidden circumstances in his own life, send investigative reporter Bill Tone to the community 25 years later. During the course of his interviews with witnesses and other town residents, he discovers a bizarre situation ignited by the religious frenzy of one of the murder victims, and a number of self-serving and immoral acts committed by others. Background to these revelations are flashbacks in which all those involved that day reflect on their actions. These include the promotion manager for an itinerant preacher, the preacher's obese common-law wife, a sex-obsessed minister and an elderly professor who deals in pornography. Clearly, Garrett's intent is to draw a picture of the moral breakdown of American society, using 1968 as the defining year that the culture changed for the worse. But because he seeks to assemble a wide spectrum of opinions, his capsule ""interviews"" serve to fragment the narrative, draining his mordant social commentary of dramatic momentum. Author tour. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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