Dreams of Leaving

Rupert Thomson, Author
Rupert Thomson, Author Atheneum Books $19.95 (435p) ISBN 978-0-689-11957-6
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
There is a deus ex machina in this humdinger of a first novel, masquerading as the piranha-like English village of New Egypt. Once born there, nobody escapesnobody except Moses Highness, whose spiritually imprisoned father George collects rushes from the river, fashions them into a basket and sets his 13-month-old son afloat. We meet Moses next in London, age 24, 66 with knockout looks. He has spent the intervening years first in an orphanage and then with warm and caring foster parents. Jobless, but never short of resources, Moses and a handful of punk friends seem determined to drink or drug themselves into oblivion. But Moses can never get drunk enough to dislodge the painful question of his identity, with which the bulk of the action and the remainder of the book are concerned. Jam-packed with events and filled with suspense, the narrative is completely absorbing. Because the prose is elegant and magic with metaphor, because even secondary characters brighten the pagesEddie, for instance, whose smile is ""almost as loud as a laugh''the reader cheerfully suspends disbelief. When the long but never burdensome tale comes to a close, Moses has uncovered his past but not yet the kernel of self. The future of Moses and New Egypt will be happily pondered by those whose good fortune it is to have met them. (April)
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