Ted Mooney Christopher Lehmann-Haupt - Essay

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Much] of "Easy Travel to Other Planets" is effective—the unusually vivid people that inhabit the story, its physical atmosphere of light and airiness, the sense it creates of the continuity of technology and people, the sense it creates of the growing discontinuity of human experience. One is especially struck by this sense of discontinuity, which Mr. Mooney achieves by mixing up his verb tenses, by disrupting the pace of the most ordinary action, and by inserting sudden, implausible scene changes….

[However], there is a little too much that goes on in Mr. Mooney's novel, what with its slightly overbusy plot and its superabundance of formal experiments. Some readers may be troubled, too, by what they may construe as an excess of sentiment over the state of the environment…. One takes Mr. Mooney's title to be ironic: it is easy to travel to other planets, but it's not so simple to survive on earth.

Still, Mr. Mooney's experiment is strongly atmospheric and continually absorbing. The dolphin lore is very well done. There is a novelistic intelligence here, however much it may have been shaped by film and television. One gets the feeling that the author has tried to cram meaning into every word of "Easy Travel." When he relaxes a little more, something first-rate is likely to result.

Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, "Books of the Times: 'Easy Travel to Other Planets'," in The New York Times (© 1981 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), December 16, 1981, p. 23.