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Lunatics: A Novel Hardcover – June 1, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
The winner of the 1995 World Fantasy Award for Best Collection (for The Calvin Coolidge Home for Dead Comedians and A Conflagration Artist), who has received critical claim for his mainstream fiction as well (Blackburn, 1993), now offers up a big-hearted, giddily plotted fantasy about the transformative power of sexual love. Recovering from the death of his wife, Jack, an engineer living in Austin, Tex., meets and falls in love with Lily, a perfect beauty?except, perhaps, for her wings and "clawed bird-feet." Trouble is, Lily is the goddess of the moon and can meet Jack only when the moon is full, and then only if he awaits her outside, stark naked. When this requirement leads to his being arrested for indecent exposure, a motley crew of friends comes to his aid. In Jack's corner are promiscuous Halle, don't-mess-with-me Katy, sensitive Carolyn, bologna-loving Stephen and Artie, a muscular moron. Under Lily's influence, for the course of a year they come together once a month at Halle's cabin in the woods, where they sometimes exchange one another's significant others. Denton's messages?about losing love in order to find it, and loving the one you're with?are neither new nor unexpected, but they're presented with grace and charm, and with a genuine affection for humanity, foibles and all.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In despair over his wife's death, Jack finds love and lust with Lily, the goddess of the moon in Austin, Texas. Each month at the full moon, he strips naked outdoors, and she comes to him. His five friends feel they must protect him from this insanity but find themselves profoundly affected by Lily's seductive influence. Full of snappy dialog and crisp characterizations, this sexy contemporary fantasy probes the meaning of love. For most collections.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Each month, when the moon is full, Jack strips naked and waits
outside for Lily. If he doesn't, she has trouble finding him on her flight
down from the Moon. The Austin police are not pleased. . . but , as
one of his friends observes, Jack's a few bubbles off level. His friends,
thirty-something engineers and academics, are pretty kinky too.
There's Halle, a software engineer, "as straightforward a woman as I've
ever been shat on by," says a former boyfriend. Halle keeps a chart of
who's slept with whom - blue lines are long-term relationships, red
lines are "short affairs, brief mistakes, and one-night stands." Even
numbers are women,
"....and men, of course, are odd." . . . Carolyn
pointed to number 100, which had so many red and blue lines
converging on it that it was surrounded by a solid purple ring. "My
God," she said, "who's the slut?"
Halle made a throat-clearing noise. "Actually," she said, "that's me."
* * *
This month, Lilith the Moon Goddess has gotten confused by the
Austin city lights, and makes a hard landing on Guadalupe St --
Halle ran into the street after her and was nearly run over by a silver
Lexus whose driver leaned out his window and called her a stupid
c*nt. She ignored him and ran on to where Lily sat on the
steps, looking dazed . . . "Why did he say c*nt as if it were a bad
thing?" she asked. She sounded shaken.
"Because he meant it as a bad thing," Halle said . . . "We should get
out of here. I'll help you up."
But Lily was still looking at the Lexus. She scowled, and it gave Halle a
chill. "Nobody should say c*nt as if it were a bad thing," Lily said.
She wiggled her finger at the Lexus as the light turned green, and when
the car began to accelerate, both of its rear tires exploded. The Lexus
groaned to a halt in the middle of Eighth Street, and then the front tires
exploded as well.
Halle stared as a flatbed truck came roaring along Eighth Street. ran the
red light, and hit the right rear fender of the Lexus . . . The driver of
the Lexus emerged just as one of Lily's loose feathers wafted onto the
windshield. When the feather touched the glass, the car's alarm began
whooping. The driver stood there gaping at his wrecked automobile
as if it were a beached whale.
"I've given him scrotum boils, too," Lily said.
* * *
I had occasional suspension-of-disbelief problems - Jack, in particular,
gets a little too loopy at times, and Lily can get pretty weird - but I'm not
a regular fantasy reader, and this is a minor quibble. The ending?
Well, see what you think . . . "soon to be a major motion picture"?
This is Denton's fourth novel; I've previously read, and enjoyed,
"Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede" (a Campbell award-
winner) - similarly quirky, similar amusing Tejano background,
similar problems. I expect urban-fantasy fans would like both books a lot.
Serious Denton fans will want to check out his interview in the Jan 97
Locus - where you'll learn (surprise!) that he is a thirty-something who
lives in Austin, plays in a rock 'n roll band, & hangs with science-
eng'g-academic folks. His BA is in astronomy & English. When he
mentioned this to his wife-to-be, she said, "Oh. What are you going to
do with that - write science fiction?" "YES."
Actually, I'd like to see Denton combine his technical background and
his wonderfully quirky characters in a REAL sf book . .
In an attempt to save him from a permanent stint in jail his friends spend each full moon with him in a cabin located way out in the boonies. It's not long before his friends begin to become affected by the presence of Jack's moon goddess and they begin to have relationship troubles. The book started out funny and the premise was wild but eventually the story turned dull as more and more time was spent on Jack's self-centered, annoying friends who were lusting after each others' wives/boyfriends/etc. etc. I really liked Jack and his moon goddess Lily - they were the only compassionate characters in the bunch - but his friends hogged up most of the book
The story's form reminded me of parts of Somerset Maugham's "Razor's Edge", where most of the characters are living petty lives filled with trivial pursuits, even though they form a group of friends. But the main character, as in "Razor's Edge", is a unique and extraordinary man. Only at the end of Lunatics do the group members put aside their pettiness to help each other.
Definitely worth a read!
Someone mentions in another review that this book is unlike Blackburn (another great book.) Which it is. Thus the wonder of Bradley Denton. I'm looking forward to his next book.