Swansong

Richard Francis, Author Atheneum Books $15.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-689-11843-2
Francis's boldly written, intelligent contemporary satire contains a current of bitterness at the British government's need for ""a small war'' to set right its failing economic policies and a stagnating society. As in his earlier books (Daggerman, etc.), the satire is not so much concerned with the comic distortion of Francis's well-rounded charactersfor they have an uncomfortable echo of truthbut with the tragicomic situations in which they find themselves. Pig (i.e., punk) rocker Premo Bulge joins the army because he can't do anything else and is sent off to war; self-pitying vicar David leaves England to be a minister on the bleak South Atlantic Farquhar (read: Falkland) Islands; failed insurance agent Terry becomes a ``hero'' in the ridiculous conflict over the island with the South American ``Costanaguans''; country squire Frankie shows us appearances can be deceptive; mysterious, anarchistic Fat Man does undercover ``waste disposal'' work for the government. Their stories weave in and around each other while the Tory government of Mrs. Cheeseman blithely heads in the ``Right Direction.'' The swansong is Britain'sbut it sounds warning notes for America as well. In the end, two soldiers are held fast in a minefield, forced, like the country they serve, to wait with hope for the dawn. (September 22)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1986
Release date: 09/01/1986
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