Denver Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Club
Fata Morgana (1977, 1996)
10 Wow! Don't miss it
8-9 Highly recommended
5-6 Mild recommendation
3-4 Take your chances
1-2 Below average; skip it
0 Get out the flamethrower!
U Unfinishable or unreadable
- Skipped or no rating given
William Kotzwinkle - Fata Morgana
William Kotzwinkle is one of the best kept secrets of American literature. Our group has read two of his novels, this one and The Bear Went Over the Mountain, and both were delightfully offbeat, entirely unlike each other or anything else we have read.
Fata Morgana is a historical detective story with elements of fantasy. The key to making this unusual combination work is the book's excellent protagonist, Inspector Picard. Picard is a tough middle-aged man with a childlike affect that makes him very easy to like. A rationalist who is also very superstitious, a devoted police inspector who likes to socialize with thieves and ruffians, Picard is a bundle of contradictions, yet his personality never seems inconsistent. He is a Nineteenth Century junk food junkie, whose greatest appetite stimulant is the thrill of the chase. He is a very efficient detective, but not a superman. He is conscious of his own shortcomings, indeed sometimes fixated on his inadequacies, but in the end it is his awareness of his limitations that saves him.
Kotzwinkle handles beautifully Picard's obsession with the idea that he may be a mere plaything of greater powers, which comes through in the toys he encounters, his surreal vision of a vast ring, and many other ways. Picard's obsession is justified; he is indeed under the control of a powerful master . . .William Kotzwinkle.
I can't say too much about this novel's ending without giving it away. Let us just say that Kotzwinkle attempts something devilishly tricky to pull off, and manages it perfectly.What do you think? Your comments are welcome. Please send them to