The Man Who Walked to the Moon.
Near the end of Howard McCord's novella, the narrator says his story is "a veritable account of a lucid insanity of long duration, an oblique confession, an apologia pro vita sua, a fantasy spun in a cold winter, or out of night." This serves as an apt description of a tightly squeezed, haunting tale told primarly by William Gaspar, a recluse whose voice sounds at times like those of Poe's insane, criminal storytellers. Paul Bowles's gruesome story "Dofia Faustina" also comes to mind. Gaspar says at one point, well into the book, that he has killed 127 people. Only gradually, though, do we begin to learn of the narrator's vocation (besides walking, that is). This, in fact, is what in part creates the suspense. What is this man doing in the desolate regions of Nevada, obsessively climbing on a mountain called the Moon? He reveals, little by little, his obsession with guns. And we realize that he himself is now being hunted down on the mountain, by a "Palug cat," a hunter who seems to be a henchman of a hag-spirit-woman called Cerridwen whom he first met during a crisis as a soldier in the Korean War. Realism is gradually eroded by the delusions of a deranged mind. McCord skillfully portrays both the psychological terrain of his assassin-narrator and the physical terrain of the mountain. As in many of Cormac McCarthy's novels, the natural world seems completely indifferent to what we call moral considerations. A work of great imaginative force and sharp, penetrating prose, The Man Who Walked to the Moon leaves the reader on edge for days, thinking how many William Gaspars might be loose in the world.
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|Publication:||The Review of Contemporary Fiction|
|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Mar 22, 1998|
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