Imperial Kelly

Peter Bowen, Author Crown Publishers $18 (0p) ISBN 978-0-517-58285-5
This burlesque rewrite of American history stars roguish Maj. Luther ``Yellowstone'' Kelly, hero of dime novelist Ned Buntline. Here Kelly (last seen in Kelly Blue ) tries desperately to duck the orders of that dangerous, childish superpatriot, Thoedore Roosevelt (``Teethadore''), who's spoiling for war. Old Injun fighter Kelly, now 50 and goutish, is still searching for ``a decent seegar and a warm, willing woman.'' T. R., as assistant secretary of the Navy, taps Kelly to recruit Rough Riders, ruffians to be officered by Ivy Leaguers. Among Kelly's enlistees are Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In Cuba, the Kid leads T. R.'s horse up San Juan Hill after the Riders refuse to follow Teddy into battle. Remaining episodes become thinner and thinner as Kelly escapes ambushes by Boers in South Africa and by Igorote tribesmen in the Philippines. He and his latest flame, Lucretia, survive a shipwreck during a typhoon and, as the book ends, the two seem intent on settling down on a California farm. Bowen is indebted to Mark Twain for his backwoods style and for his hero's cynicism toward civilization, politics and war. But, to misquote Twain, anyone looking for a realistic plot should be shot. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/03/1992
Release date: 08/01/1992
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