The Feast of Fools

John David Morley, Author St. Martin's Press $23.95 (443p) ISBN 978-0-312-11786-3
Morley's extended rumination on the ways and mores of modern Munich is a broad, ambitious book that shoots for literary greatness throughout and occasionally hits the mark. Freely blending references to myth, astrology and literature, the author's fourth novel (after The Case of Thomas N.) explores the city through a sampling of its cultural elite as they plow through the seasonal ceremonies that sustain the good burghers during a tempestuous winter. While both characters and subplots abound, the central conflict revolves around a split between an artist named Brum and his wife, Stefanie, who briefly leaves him to conduct an affair with a rich, androgynous undertaker with a penchant for ladies' underwear. In addition to various other members of Stefanie's family, the roster also includes several entertaining figures connected to the Munich Evening Herald, the best of whom is Johnny Ploog, a typically cynical critic and columnist. Morley uses his characters as vehicles to offer his thoughts on culture, love, death and other weighty issues. Plot is a secondary concern for much of the novel; the narrative is divided into numerous chapters of varying styles and lengths. Some are stunningly literate and brilliant, while others are tedious or self-indulgently experimental. But as inconsistent as this novel often is, few modern novelists take the risks inherent in Morley's effort, and when he succeeds the literary sparks fly. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/02/1995
Release date: 01/01/1995
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 978-0-312-13493-8
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