Moonlite

David Foster, Author Penguin Books $6.95 (224p) ISBN 978-0-14-006335-6
Flora MacDuffie and her primitive clan eke out a marginal existence on the outermost, least hospitable British isle. When the Reverend Stewart Campbell arrives and upgrades the living conditions of the island's inhabitants, Flora is overjoyed. She allows Campbell to educate her son, Finbar, who later leaves home to study at an offshore religious college. Finbar eventually rejects the bible (""a load of old rubbish'') in favor of science, discovers alcohol and is ousted from college, and journeys to the New West Highlands. There, he is caught up in the gold rush, forfeits his soul to an aboriginal witchdoctor and strikes it rich in an unexpected way. The Australian author cleverly satirizes that country's customs and values (``There is a purpose to college life,'' Finbar quips, ``the production of the sort of man who can shine at a dinner party'') and describes Australia's varied peoples and landscapes with precision, although his attention to minor details appears obsessive at times. Foster's characters obnoxiously perpetuate traditional prejudices: Campbell fulminates about the ``wicked'' and ``depraved'' Jews, blacks are called ``nignogs'' and a character ``sweats like a dago at a dinner-dance.'' If one can overlook such comments, Moonlite is worth reading for its successful blend of realism, folklore and wit. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
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