Billy Budd, KGB

Jerome Charyn, Author, Francois Boucq, Illustrator
Jerome Charyn, Author, Francois Boucq, Illustrator Catalan Communications $17.95 (128p) ISBN 978-0-87416-111-3
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
The creators of The Magician's Wife return with a bizarre and complex espionage story. A young Ukrainian orphan with a strange psychic power is enrolled in a KGB training school in the wake of WW II. Two decades later, given the code name Billy Budd, he is sent to the U.S. as a spy. One of his co-workers on a construction crew is a Native American holy man who introduces him to the spiritual life forbidden during his youth. Much like his namesake, Budd is involuntarily confined to a vessel, in this case New York City, full of severe social and philosophical contradictions, and his spontaneity, honesty and bravery eventually overwhelm his loyalty to the Soviet state. Caught in a monumental political conflict, Budd's defiant story culminates in a violent tragedy high atop St. Patrick's Cathedral. Charyn's story, vivid and sensitive at the beginning, can become somewhat tedious and absurd (as in the attempt to use Billy's telepathic powers for espionage). Yet its combination of Cold War paranoia and spiritual redemption, its Melvillian overtones and Boucq's brilliant and meticulous illustrations, propel the narrative forward. (Jan.)
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!