Talk:A Talent for Loving

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 Definition Fourth novel by Richard Condon, celebrated writer of political thrillers, published in 1961. [d] [e]
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 Workgroup category Literature [Editors asked to check categories]
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Time Magazine review:

Books: A Short of Cats, July 21, 1961,9171,897853,00.html

A TALENT FOR LOVING (267 pp.)— Richard Condon—McGraw-Hill ($4.95).

Disciples are the undoing of holy men, and so it is with Richard Condon, a talented and satirical fantast whose fiercely proselytizing followers regard him as the fifth hoarse man of the Apocalypse. A Condon novel has the sound and shape of a bagful of cats. In The Oldest Confession, The Manchurian Candidate and Some Angry Angel, Condon garnered fans with accounts, written in messianic exasperation, of criminal endeavor, fate's falling cornices, widespread venality, the search for truth, Chinese torture practices, and the love of good women. The sort of nuance that drives his fans loopy with admiration comes when a concessionaire in Some Angry Angel, observing a figure perched on a window ledge, hurriedly prints up and sells badges labeled "Jump" and "Don't Jump."

But Condon's latest morality, a Western, is written with calculation, not exasperation. It is not hard to imagine the author fretfully asking himself, on a dry day, what would be a good, juicy Condon touch. He offers several: a skirt-chasing captain in Cortes' army, for instance, writes a diary of his conquests and amuses himself by alleging it to be the confessions of the god Quetzalcoatl. Outraged Aztecs set upon the blasphemer and his descendants the curse of undying lust. Telling of it, one weary descendant, a rancher who at 67 requires the constant attention of 18 concubines, "seemed to collapse within himself. His face was newly dented with grief like a loaf of bread a giraffe has kneeled upon."

The curse begets an active plot line, part of it borrowed from a Faulkner short story. But Condon's rendering of sagebrush legend is only fitfully funny. Proof that the author himself knows that something is wrong is that on almost every page he stops to wave at friends in the crowd. A street in Paris, for instance, is not too slyly titled "Rue Artbuch Wald."

New York Times review

Since this is a novel by Richard Condon, it all ends with brilliantly eccentric symmetry as a war party of savage Injuns dash out to rescue the whies from a massacre by the cavalry.