Top critical review
Influential, not a nice read
on 8 May 2017
Eons ago I stopped reading his 1965 WW II novel “The Painted Bird” for being a mix of truth and fantasy, mostly fantasy. Years later, Mr. Kosinski was attacked in US media about the veracity of his writings. Perhaps to dispel doubts about truth and fantasy, he wrote this influential, sarcastic 1970 fantasy novel about a zero becoming a hero in the US.
Chance is the name of the gardener of a NY mansion surrounded by high walls. He has lived there forever. Early on described as mentally defective, he is illiterate but has been kept well-fed and –clothed by a maid. Watching TV in his room informs him about the world outside. He has no official papers nor a record of existence anywhere when his benefactor, the Old Man dies at age 97. Soon, lawyers probe into his status, then become threatening. Chance packs a suitcase, moves out of his walled garden and is almost immediately hit by a car, putting himself, again and miraculously, into the care of someone else...
How this fantasy proceeds is for readers to discover and enthuse about, or not.
Found what followed increasingly annoying re JK’s nasty, insidious tone and Chance’s simple messages about gardening gaining political track. Were Americans really that stupid? Probably, given the latest presidential election. The film version of this book starring Peter Sellers as Chance, is judged by many to be superior to this original book version.