Watching the Body Burn

Thomas Glynn, Author Alfred A. Knopf $18.95 (299p) ISBN 978-0-394-57176-8
Glyn ( The Building ) writes about a boy's nightmarish view of his father, an alcoholic physician who sets himself aflame while smoking. This grotesque scene, witnessed by the son with fascinated and unsentimental detachment, opens and closes the novel. The rest consists of short discontinuous chapters about growing upthe feisty violence of kids on the street, the games grown men play, the boy's nascent sexual awareness and preoccupation with the male body and his intense bond with his father and other paternal figures (a priest, a mob of uncles). ``The Rocking Horse'' traces his phallic fixation ever since a mad, nude nursemaid dangled the boy and the toy over a balcony before his horrified parents. In ``Booze,'' the boy watches his father's crackpot drinking chums; ``Golf'' describes two men mangling each other in a golfclub duel; ``Donkey Baseball'' outlines a bizarre sport. Holding his subject up to a kind of funhouse mirror, Glyn, a nontraditional writer, conjures scenes of heightened surrealism, without losing clarity and passion. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
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