The Circle Tour

William Wiser, Author Atheneum Books $19.95 (388p) ISBN 978-0-689-11928-6
The central character in this provocative novel is the Critic, a chameleon who absorbs and sheds lives like so many skins, without ever approaching the core of his own. As a responsible, meticulous employee at a Florida mental hospital he meets the Poet, a blustering talent who succumbed one day to the antisocial urge to hop over the side of a cruising Circle Tour boat. When the Poet finally achieves the suicide he seeks, the Critic slowly slides into his persona, finally flitting off on an odyssey of fulfillment. First stop on his Grand Tour of the psyche is the Poet's ex-wife; next stop is Belfast, a grim, yet surprisingly amusing city that elevates its poets to the highest rank. When the game is up there, the Critic moves on to the south of France as ghost-writer and dog-walker for a wealthy woman in search of a sanitized past, then drifts back to Florida, where he recreates himself as a night clerk at a crumbling hotel. In this chronicle of alienation, Wiser oversteps the bounds at times, making the dislocations of his character's dark journey seem artificial and affected. Despite its flaws, however, the novel offers an intriguing, pleasingly askew angle on a life no more counterfeit than many others pinned down on these pages. Wiser is the author of Disappearances. (March)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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