In midcentury America, the golden age of television, a man named Golk is wreaking havoc with the medium. Through a devastating series of exposures--"You're on Camera"--Golk manipulates the high and mighty, the lowdown and dirty, and the outrageous weird; all are within the compass of Richard Stern in this early novel, a comedy with as many inspired maneuvers as its rambunctious protagonist has for taking the measure of a profligate world.
""Golk" is a rich and marvelously detailed novel by a man with a cultivated intelligence; it is also the first really good book I have read about television."--Norman Mailer
"An original: sharp, funny, intelligent, rare. . . . Working in a clean, oblique style reminiscent of Nathanael West, Mr. Stern has written in" Golk" a first-rate comic novel, a piece of fiction that is at once about and loaded with that kind of recognition that junkies call the flash."--Joan Didion, " National Review "
""Golk" is fantastic, funny, bitter, intelligent without weariness. Best of all Golk is pure--that is to say necessary. Without hokum."--Saul Bellow
""Golk" (like Golk himself) is a wonderous conception. Its world responds to personification, not analysis, and personify it Mr. Stern has done. A book in a thousand."--Hugh Kenner
"What I like about Mr. Stern's fantasy is that it has been conceived and written with so much gaiety. Far from a political melodrama, it reminds me of a Rene Clair movie, and even the surrealist touches needed to bring out the power and pretense of the television industry are funny rather than symbolically grim."--Alfred Kazin, "Reporter "
"A mighty good book, altogether alive, full of beans and none of them spilled."--Flannery O'Connor
In the godless world of Madison Avenue television reigns the deity, Golk. Neither good nor evil, he "golks" those about him into obeisance, exposing with his impartial camera eye the proud and powerful "golks" - statesmen, millionaires - and the trampled "golks" - the vulnerable and corrupt poor. On his staff, a part of the trinity, are an intellectual young man, Hondorp, shrewd but lacking the real strength of Golk, and Hendricks, a twenty-three year old debutante, original, bitter, and vital. When Golk tires of his vast but paralleled power on television, the power to entertain he turns his talents to the dangerous business of overthrowing national idols. He is dismissed from the network, his show given over to his two assistants. For a year they bask in the reflected glory of Golk until Golk mysteriously begins to appear on their, shows, a great bald dome in a crowd scene. Convinced that Golk has mystically willed his doom, Hondorp symbolically commits suicide by publishing his own death notice in place of his father's, a travesty against the old man who measured success in terms of the length of obituaries. Hendricks returns to the hell which is her natural domain, and Golk gets along. The impact of this book is not derived from the brutal frankness of Richard Stern's style, which to some will be offensive, but rather from the consistency with which he sustains the existential climate of his novel. A promising writer, for the readers of Camus, Kafka, and Nathaniel West. (Kirkus Reviews)