Humpty Dumpty: An Oval

Humpty Dumpty: An Oval

by Damon Knight
     
 

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Humpty Dumpty is a breakthrough work for this acknowledged master of the fantastic, an intriguing, entertaining, and immensely appealing novel of a man trying to make sense of a world gone mad. The tale begins when Wellington Stout wakes in an Italian hospital, uncertain how or why he came to be there. Gradually he learns that he was shot in the head in a Milan… See more details below

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Humpty Dumpty is a breakthrough work for this acknowledged master of the fantastic, an intriguing, entertaining, and immensely appealing novel of a man trying to make sense of a world gone mad. The tale begins when Wellington Stout wakes in an Italian hospital, uncertain how or why he came to be there. Gradually he learns that he was shot in the head in a Milan restaurant the night before his stepdaughter's wedding, perhaps because of a mysterious packet his brother asked him to deliver. The doctors tell him he is fortunate to be alive, but Stout has his doubts. For the bullet that has entered his skull has also opened cracks in the fabric of reality, and, as in the old nursery rhyme, no force on Earth or in Heaven can put it back together again. Soon Stout is hearing voices foretelling his doom, encountering antediluvian cabals of dentists, extraterrestrial shoe salesmen, gargantuan rodents, seductive adolescent sibyls, and giant craters opening across the face of North America, and traveling on an uncertain odyssey through a distorted landscape made of the fragments of his own life and memory.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Distinguished editor, writer, and critic Knight's new novel (after A Reasonable World, 1993, etc.) opens in Milan, where Wellington "Bill" Stout—he "travels in ladies' underwear"—is shot in the head while dining in a restaurant. He wakes, or thinks he does, in a hospital; the bullet, too dangerous to remove, still lodges in his skull, so he's being treated with hallucinogenic drugs. According to his dinner companion, Roger Wort, Bill was given a McGuffin by his brother, Tom, to pass to Roger, but in the confusion it went missing or perhaps was stolen from his hotel room—Bill doesn't remember. A new planet appears in the sky and is generally referred to as "Mongo." A slick salesman from the Spaeth Corporation puts a bug in Bill's shoes while pretending to correct their fit. The McGuffin must have been an ordinary-looking business card, Roger concludes, and Bill recalls giving one to a Rosemary Sanchez, with whom he'd chatted on the plane. Bill encounters the ancient order of Dentists, a secret organization of supermen who are battling Spaeth and the Mongoids for control of the world. Pursued by the mysterious owners of the McGuffin (they declare that Bill is receiving glimpses of the real world), Bill returns to America in search of Sanchez, while asteroids (or perhaps spaceships) strike the Earth, ejecting debris—or alien invaders.

Weird, amusing, confusing, arresting, and yet the whole is disappointingly less that the sum of the myriad, often wonderful, parts.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312863838
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
08/15/1997
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.54(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.81(d)

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