The Dream of a Beast

Neil Jordan, Author Random House (NY) $12.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-394-57314-4
An unnamed man in an unnamed city beside an unnamed sea becomes increasingly aware of the physical changes being wrought by unbearable heat. The appearance and habits of a whole community are changing. As twisted vines begin to disfigure the walls and oozing succulents sprout from the pavements, alien growths spring up on the man himself. As his speech and shape alter, the words of his wife and his friends turn into gibberish. He shuns the mirror, where the person he sees is unrecognizable; he sleeps on the floor like the outsize beast he resembles. He wraps himself in bandages to protect those he meets from the shock of his strangeness. Banished finally from his house, he wanders through a now unfamiliar environment and meets a young boy who feeds him cornstalks and who is himself outcast. They travel the world, sometimes flying, sometimes swimming, until the boy sickens and dies and the man takes him into his own body. In this surrealistic novella, Jordan ( The Past ), who directed the film Mona Lisa , provides a metaphor for the fragility of holding on to one's identity. Not everyone's book, it nonetheless rewards careful perusal. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1989
Release date: 03/01/1989
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