MR Touch CL

Malcolm Bosse, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $22.95 (502p) ISBN 978-0-89919-965-8
The author of The Warlord seems likely to have another bestseller on his hands with this sweeping novel, a sort of postapocalyptic Canterbury Tales . A viral disease, V-70, has decimated the population of the earth, leaving only a handful of survivors, many of them with failing eyesight and feeble lungs. In New York a group of survivors--many of them poor blacks and Latinos, but also a smattering of white middle-class--has banded together, calling themselves the Skulls, under the leadership of a blind former Wall Street wheeler-dealer, Mister Touch. Skull rules are simple: no drugs, weapons only for self-defense against the roaming packs of savage dogs--and no memories: everyone is named anew, with the kinds of jazzy sobriquets once written as subway graffiti: Fierce Rabbit, Cola Face, Boo Bang, Queen Sexy, Adidas. The Skulls survive a raid by a rival gang seeking their only medical person (professional expertise is at a premium), but Mister Touch decides that life in the city is impossible and leads his raggle-taggle army in a caravan of cars and trucks to Arizona, where they can breathe better and, perhaps, settle down and start over. The epic journey, full of adventures and encounters in a superbly imagined country given over to the dead, eventually succeeds, but at enormous cost. Bosse's skill in keeping his huge cast in action (there are more than 120 characters, many of them prominently featured, most of them deftly sketched) is extraordinary. The novel, though it focuses on Touch, his leadership anxieties and his moving love affair with Spirit of the Dark, is full of stories: ribald, exciting, touching, absurd. And the jive dialogue of many of the Skulls seems note-perfect. There are lapses: the assassination attempt, in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, by a spurned lover of Touch, is somewhat overdone, and there is some graphic violence. But overall Mister Touch is a big, supremely vital and exhilarating vision of human endurance. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Paperback - 35 pages - 978-0-449-90754-2
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