Head to Toe

Joe Orton, Author St. Martin's Press $13.95 (186p) ISBN 978-0-312-00718-8
A cross between Gulliver and Alice, Orton's unwitting hero, Gombold, begins his journey when he wanders onto the head of a giant, hundreds of miles tall. The trip of the title, and back again, takes long enough for the host-creature to age, long enough for Gombold to have assorted adventures with assorted companions. Mostly he gets into trouble running afoul of unknown conventions, a frequent experience in such an odd landscape. Here plants talk, governments are run by large, trivial-minded women, men are occupied with war and revolution and Gombold spends many years imprisoned in a privy. Gargantuan body parts contribute an oddly gruesome, mildly distasteful humor to Gombold's travels, but on the whole his journey is a grim one, leaving him as bewildered at the end as he was at the beginning of his quest. Those who know of Orton's plays, including What the Butler Saw, and his violent death at the hands of his male lover, will recognize familiar satiric, scatological and erotic themes in this novel, which is powered by an unflagging, risk-taking imagination and the kind of energy associated with major literary talent. (July 21)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
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