cover image The End of Everything Man

The End of Everything Man

Tom De Haven. Doubleday Books, $20 (436pp) ISBN 978-0-385-26041-1

This second installment in De Haven's trilogy sustains the excitement begun in Walker of Worlds . The Epicene, an apocalyptic mud monster, threatens to mature and tear its way into the fourth ``moment,'' or universe, thus releasing the deadly Last Humans. The survival of the three known moments hangs in the balance. A small group from Kemolo (the moment in which PW readers reside) travels throughout Lostwithal (a moment in which people eat the insides of beetles as narcotics). Peter Musik, journalist from Kemolo, searches for his new love, Money Campbell--she's been captured by the art-prince, who hideously transforms her as he paints. Jere Lee, a homeless woman, courts Master Squintik, Cold Mage and possible savior of the universe. While herky-jerky jumps and cliffhanger chapter endings are at times irritating, the complex plot never bogs down. Masterful comic relief and pacing, as well as strangely appealing characters, such as an albino midget in an Hawaiian shirt who occupies a game room in his ``landlord's'' subconscious, lift the tale above the usual. New readers should plunge right in--an assortment of plot devices entertainingly recap the first book. (July)