Family Values

Michael J. Bugeja, Author Sligo Press Inc. $0 (273p) ISBN 978-0-9651213-4-7
In an awkward novel, Bugeja, a poet who teaches ethics and magazine writing at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, tries to chart the slippery moral ground of tabloid journalism. Mylo Thrump, editor of the Chronicle, one of two newspapers in a nameless Midwestern city, is being divorced by his wife, Wendy, editor of the Chronicle's rival paper, the Herald. In an effort to build circulation and in competition with his wife, Mylo has revamped the Chronicle in the sensational tabloid journalism mode of the Star and the National Enquirer. He sends one of his two star reporters to cover the local DA's Rotary Club speech on ""family values,"" which, in order to announce the DA's candidacy for the City Commission, targets community leaders with ""gay tendencies."" Hoping to catch the DA in a sensational contradiction, Mylo dispatches his other ace reporter to get proof that the DA's wife, Allie, is having an affair. Faking her own abduction from the Rotary event to keep her regular tryst with her opportunistic druggie lover, Allie kicks off a chain of events in which the DA, the reporters and the wayward wife are exposed for the hollowness of their values, and Allie attains a spiritual transformation: ""At that moment Allie experienced a sense of lightness and relief-self-worth-as something divine descended on her and entered her being."" Bugeja's attempts at illuminating the source of ethical behavior through satire fall flat. Repetitive scenes with a cast of Chaplinesque characters drag out and oversimplify the action, which glides too easily toward its predictable conclusion. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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