The Old Man and Mr. Smith: A Fable

Peter Ustinov, Author Arcade Publishing $19.95 (261p) ISBN 978-1-55970-134-1
Actor-author Ustinov's fable about God and Satan on an inspection tour of planet Earth is offbeat, witty, touching, profound and frequently hilarious. God--irascible, world-weary, pontificating--is the Old Man, or Godfrey; Satan poses as a Mr. Smith. But the otherworldly duo often change disguises as they traipse around the U.S., where ``absurd optimism'' prevails, and visit England, a fast-crumbling Soviet Union, strife-torn Israel, India, China (``The Dictatorship of the Geriatric Ward''caps ok ) and Japan, where efficiency has been elevated to a new religion. Thrown in jail for counterfeiting, able to disappear and reappear at will, constantly avoiding arrest by FBI agents who suspect they're Soviet spies or extraterrestrials, God and Satan measure the fall of humanity through encounters with the American president, the Soviet First Secretary, a whore, a drug-addicted hobo, an evangelist preacher and sundry others. Within this loquacious novel's cosmic banter, Ustinov offers priceless philosophical nuggets, as well as scathing satirical barbs, which, though sometimes arch or high-handed, are more often on target. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1991
Release date: 06/01/1991
Paperback - 261 pages - 978-1-55970-191-4
Hardcover - 978-0-385-25273-7
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