lief in sleaziness as a publicity advantage?nAn attempt to avoid head-on identifications,nan assumption that a romanna clef could safely accuse and expose?nWe do not know the answers, but wentend to believe that it would have hadna far more lasting effect, importance andnimpact if it had been published as anpolemical or investigative tract.nTo list some of their literary sinsnmight be amusing if we—the good guysnwho are convinced that the authorsnare on our side—were not so victimizednby their unbelievable pokiness. Thenreality of The Spike consists only of thenCIA, the KGB, journalists, politiciansnand females straight from the pages ofnPlayboy. Ideas, political concepts, socialnfactors have no part in this game; onlyn”strategic plans” exist. The world isnrun by gossip-column characters, “agencies”nand “operatives.” History is confinednto the issues of daily newspapers.nThe dialogue is atrocious; it’s as if itnwere not written with a pen but putntogether from clippings from tabloids.*nApparently the idea that language, andnconsequently conversations, may servenas much to conceal intentions, or tonsuggest desires, as to make outrightnstatements, has never occurred to thenauthors (or their characters): even thensubtlest relationships are handled bynsock-it-right-between-the-eyes modes ofncommunication. The protagonist, a certainnBob Hockney, “lanky and goodlooking”nand born into the so-callednestablishment, is a consummate idiotnwho, thanks to an astonishingly simplisticnplot, becomes a little less of an idiot,nbut never a normally developed homonsapiens. It is doubtful whether he couldnsurvive one day in New York City, butnthe authors want him to succeed as thenNew York Times’s (in disguise) ace reporter.nThey even give him a thoughtnabout himself: “He . . . was helpingnto change world history …” This, naturally,nbecomes a caricature, as Mr.n*ExampIe: ” Treedom is a relative concept,’nRenard said pensively. ‘iVIichel, let’s not f—naround philosophizing,’ Hockney’s tonenwas . . .”n»8inChronicles of CulturenHockney, a perfect moron, never —nthroughout 379 pages of narrativeseemsnto realize why he so fiercely combatsnthe CIA, or why, after his miraculousnconversion, unmarred by any cerebralneffort, he starts to defend the agency.nAccording to the authors: “Thendeeper he dug, the more he came to feelnthat, as a journalist, he had a lot tonatone for.” This would be nice if onlynMessrs. de Borchgrave and Moss knewnhow to make us think that Mr. Hockneyncan “feel” any more than a Barbie dollndoes. At the end of the book the authorsnsuddenly shift the narrative to a kind ofnfuturistic political burlesque; it propoundsnthe bold thesis that an Americannvice president is on the Soviet payroll—anKGB front man—if not financially,nthen ideologically. Not that wenfind this sort of cabaretlike conceptualitynimpossible, or far-fetched, butnthe style which is used to make us believenin such hyperbole strikes us as unnecessarilynvulgar.nQuite offensive to our taste is the lamenpursuit of so-called authenticity by thencheapest means possible. The detailedndelineation of guns appears to be an obsession:nthe intentions of the “operatives”nare recognizable by whether theynuse a Walther P-38, or an AK-47 or anTokarev 7.62. This, unfortunately, doesnnot make up for the authors’ ignorancenof how the enemy looks, proceeds, behavesnwhen seen from the inside: innfact, Soviets in The Spike are straightnfrom Ninochka; their manners of speechnand their psychological reactions seemnto be copied from Greta Garbo’s “Russian”nHollywood comedy. We can imaginenthe belly laughs at No. 2 DzherzhinskynSquare when the novel is readnby KGB experts. The narrative hits thenpeak of absurdity when a high KGBnofficial in Geneva reprimands his subordinate,na potential security risk and possiblendefector, telling the future renegadenagent that he will recommend hisnrecall to Moscow “for disciplinary action.”nAll the prestige that Messrs. denBorchgrave and Moss have accumulatednfor their Kremlinologist authority sud­nnndenly evaporates. They seem not tonknow that a totalitarian “operative” defectsnon presumption, on painfully deducednsuspicions, that he never is exposednto verbal abuse. Simply rereadingnthe opening chapters of Darkness atnNoon could have helped them to avoidnsuch a gross blunder.nYet it is not the authors’ inability tonendow their characters with the capacitynfor deductive thinking which makes usnsad. By far the most inexcusable offensenis what they did to the OSS—not thenvenerable agency—the so-called obligatorynsex scenes. We tried to figure outnwhat the imitation of Screw magazinenprose contributes to this novel, but tonno avail. If Messrs. de Borchgrave aridnMoss had the touch and expertise ofnRoth or Updike, they could have claimednthat they were searching for existentialnand human multidimensionality. However,ntheir literary treatment of the matternmakes us think that before each descriptionnof a sex act, they jotted downna list of terms—penis, nipple, erection,nsperm, etc. —and proceeded systematicallynto use all of them within half anpage in order to prove their savoir-faire.nIt might sound like this: “Did you alreadynput in ‘orgasm,’ Arnaud?” “Yes,nRobert, and I added two ‘vaginas,’ onen’scrotum,’ and one ‘damp triangle ofnhair.’ ” “Splendid, isn’t it?” Their mostnrefined female character, a person ofngood breeding, fine manners and thenbest credentials as the most positivenwoman in the entire novel, asks immediatelynafter coitus: “How was it?”—nwith the ethereal gracefulness of a hamburger-standnmanager.nA his novel, written by a writer withntalent, or at least artistic responsibility,ncould have made literary history. As itnis, the book is just a bizarre phenomenonn—the symbiosis of great moral and socialntruth with an embarrassingly imperfectnliterary representation of thisntruth. It makes us not disenchanted, ornunsatisfied, but sad. (CC) •n