Traffic and Laughter

Ted Mooney, Author Alfred A. Knopf $19.95 (401p) ISBN 978-0-394-58478-2
From its beginning scenes of a flash fire racing down the canyon toward the home of lilac-eyed L.A. disk jockey Sylvia Walters--even as she and Michael Bonner, a movie special-effects designer whom she has just interviewed for her radio show, couple feverishly on the living room floor--Mooney's second novel ( Easy Travel to Other Planets ) races headlong. A sense of urgency and danger envelops the 10 main characters, who are involved in a complex gridlock of relationships in this stylish thriller cum metaphysical literary novel. As Sylvia and Michael's affair continues to sizzle, she becomes friendly with South African actress Nomanzi Lolombela, who is a gun-runner for the anti-apartheid underground in her native land; meanwhile, the two women's fathers, both career diplomats, are engaged in top-secret negotiations in Europe over a possible demonstration test for a fission bomb that could destroy the planet. Menacingly omnipresent is a figure who may or may not be the ghost of Sylvia's uncle. Mooney's writing is so lively that readers may forgive his overblown prose, fulsomely arch tone and pretentious cosmic pronouncements. Laced with ironies that culminate in a crowning incident on the novel's last page, this is a compulsive whirlwind of a read, a book that should win new fans for those who enjoy Mooney's sophisticated view of life as a very grave farce. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1990
Release date: 10/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-679-73884-8
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