cover image Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede

Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede

Bradley Denton. William Morrow & Company, $22 (359pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10822-9

Denton ( Wrack and Roll ) offers pop culture, tabloid headlines and rock 'n' roll in an entertaining blend reminiscent of such quirky films as Repo Man and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai. Kansas computer salesman Oliver Vale, who was conceived at the very moment that Buddy Holly's plane crashed in Iowa, is surprised when Holly appears suddenly on televisions all over the world, apparently resurrected with his guitar on the bleak surface of Ganymede, with a sign bearing Oliver's name and address. Fleeing angry neighbors and the FCC, who believe he's responsible, Oliver heads for Lubbock, Tex., to visit Holly's grave and learn whether he has indeed been raised. The broadcast continues unabated, and Oliver's pursuers grow to include two groups of space aliens, a cyborg guard dog, a renegade CIA operative and Oliver's own confused therapist, all heading for a transcendental climax at a Kansas drive-in. As the plot gathers momentum, Oliver's memories and his mother's diary entries capture the impulses at the heart of American popular culture. Although the finish doesn't quite come off, Denton's masterful balancing of humor, action and perceptive characterization yields intelligent, moving entertainment. (Sept.)