(John) Rayner Heppenstall

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Eric Korn

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[Two Moons] is a carefully constructed, defiantly random paste-up of faits divers—homicides, road accidents, the goings and comings of heads of state, weather reports, and a sports round-up, observed by a mandarin-in-the-moon…. [The] duplex narrative line [is] neither as difficult to follow nor as interesting as you might think.

Gradually, from the sandstorm of occurrences, preoccupations …, charming speculations …, and uncharming prejudices …, a focus and a narrator appears: Harold Atha, a writer preparing a television programme on bellringing, whose son has had a disastrous accident…. Depressingly, [Harold] concludes that "traditional astrology may sometimes adumbrate a pattern where all, at first, seems meaningless", and we are subjected to a barrage of lunations, conjunctions, aspects, and sextiles. For the sceptical reader, for whom fictional events are not evidence, it remains meaningless, though Mr Heppenstall, despite the obstacles he puts in his own path, rarely writes without clarity and sensibility. (p. 682)

Eric Korn, in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1977; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), June 3, 1977.

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