The Whistling Song

Stephen Beachy, Author W. W. Norton & Company $19.95 (411p) ISBN 978-0-393-02964-2
Verbose, surreal and disturbing, this picaresque tale is at times so thick with metaphor and quasi-profundity that it becomes nearly unbearable. Matt, an introspective orphan who witnessed his parents' murder, is on a idealistic quest to find Andalusia, the playful babysitter of his childhood, who lavished affection on him during her temporary residence in his family's Des Moines duplex. Misbegotten overtones of Huck Finn abound as he flees an orphanage headed by the predictably perverted Father Larry and lights out for the territory with an amoral, beautiful black boy named Jimmy. Bizarre scenes of sex and violence become commonplace for the homeless pair as they hitchhike across the U.S., and Matt admits to homosexual longings though Andalusia is no less on his mind. Later, minus Jimmy, Matt forms dynamic relationships with other hapless teens and rare moments of lucidity provide respite from the unrestrained psychedelia. First-novelist Beachy has an uncanny knack for portraying the kaleidoscopic thoughts of one who has been wide awake for too long, but in order to accompany his antihero on this unrelenting road-trip one needs a verbal snowplow. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-393-30949-2
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