Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 84
Condon, Richard 1915–1996
Condon is an American novelist, screenwriter, and playwright who currently resides in Ireland. His work attacks the absurdity and clichés of modern culture, especially concerning organized crime, motion pictures, corruption, and violence. Inventive and entertaining, his humor is based on exaggeration and excess. But it is a painful humor, undercut with despair and concern for moral values. A highly readable author, Condon is gaining popularity, attracting an almost cult following. (See also CLC, Vols. 4, 6, 8, and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed.)
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 365
Richard Condon has tireless wit (though sometimes it fatigues the reader) and must enjoy what he is doing without necessarily believing it. And what he does can be fun—Nabokov without tears. (p. 10)
From internal evidence, one judges that [Condon] knows full well what he is doing, even if he might prefer to be doing something wise rather than shrewd. He bills ["Bandicoot"] as the companion to "Arigato," which is one I missed; but burrowing "as fast as a man can dig"—as in the description of the Australian rodent, the bandicoot, printed in the front of the book—I seemed to make sufficient sense, or nonsense, of an entertainer's latest entertainment.
Here … we have world travel, the famous and the rich, the powerful and the wicked, plus the usual food, drink and girlish meat-strudel of a Condon concoction. A certain megapop tic limits any commitment. We suspend both belief and disbelief. Is Richard Condon too smart for the novel? One wishes he didn't fall back on clever tics. Names are dropped or pulled in for laffs. Sometimes the burlesque gets the laugh he wants, as when an Olympic freestyle sexual event ends with: "Bitsy's frequent outcries were so piercing that they were taken for small craft warnings by fishing vessels."…
Mr. Condon's people at least allow us to believe in ourselves; we remain alive though reading. One wishes fairly steadily now that he would not waylay us with show-biz puns and characters named after real people familiar to those who followed Cholly Knickerbocker's columns.
"Bandicoot" is a confection that amuses. It might be better if, in his self-delighted way, Mr. Condon made another stab at living up to the ringing proclamation of his essay on The Novel in Harper's: "When we want to understand grief beyond grief, or the external confrontation of man and woman, man and God, man and himself, we go to the novel." Failing grief beyond grief and eternal confrontations, we can here at least take pleasure in some frequent and piercing offhand funning that will hardly disturb any fishing vessels. (p. 39)
Herbert Gold, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1978 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), March 12, 1978.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 90
Condon is a romper, and [Bandicoot] is one of his wilder and funnier romps. The plot? Forget it! The story concerns a gambling-mad ex-British naval captain, Japanese industrialists (they stretch their Rolls-Royces a few feet to make them the world's longest), oil deposits under Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Unlike other writers of improbable derring-do, Condon gives lots of little side essays on such things as ballooning, opal mining, haute cuisine, and sexual positions.
William Cole, "A Romper," in Saturday Review (© 1978 by Saturday Review Magazine Corp.; reprinted with permission), March 18, 1978, p. 55.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 87
Satire is always difficult to write and often is difficult to understand. We have read the works of many authors who have failed in their attempts; not Condon. He's a master at it…. In a very funny, wild chase across the Australian outback—including a flight in a balloon—Condon pulls out all stops [in Bandicoot]. Condon deals in impossible situations but he makes them very plausible—and funny. (p. 31)
Rick Davis, in West Coast Review of Books (copyright 1978 by Rapport Publishing Co., Inc.), Vol. 4, No. 3 (May, 1978).
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 117
[Bandicott] has some very funny redeeming qualities: Yvonne Bonnette, the hero's mistress, has the body of "a ripened Nereid every square inch of whose skin was an erogenous zone." In the boudoir, when not otherwise engaged, she plays the saxophone…. Such humor, however, is sporadic in Bandicoot. And even when it surfaces, sometimes with rib-tickling effect, it is undermined by Condon's complete lack of restraint. A less experienced writer could be excused for this overkill of mirth, but one expects more from the veteran author….
Condon stuffs [this novel] with humor—outrageous, more outrageous, most outrageous—until … it explodes and sputters into oblivion. (p. 101)
Anthony R. Cannella, in Best Sellers (copyright © 1978 Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation), July, 1978.
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