Gods Of Bell, a review of the novel written by Exposition Press in 1979

CLICK ... Rrrring ... CLICK

Charlie Longley, our anti-hero, shivers as he gazes at his co-workers in the test room at the phone company. Their zombiism depresses the hell out of him and he's determined that he isn't going to wind up like old Vic, who's just going through the motions until retirement. Poor old slob, he gives Charlie the creeps.

Anyway, in the course of his test measurements, he just happens to plug into a red hot love conversation between a distinguished senator and his male lover ... and he invites his semi-moronic friend Jimmy to join him in this clandestine day-brightener. The two of them are instantly hooked, and the havoc they wreak along the line is incredible. Charlie keeps a little black book with bookies' names, conversations between the governor and a shady real estate dealer, girls' phone numbers - everything. These two guys bust up romances, set husbands and wives to fighting, pick up dames and make dates they never show up for and, in general, just raise all kinds of hell. Once in a while, they do a good turn just to convince themselves they aren't doing anything really wrong. These two guys are raunchy, ribald, ridiculous and probably live next door to you.

Charlie, bright enough to understand the problems of his fellowmen, is also bright enough to know that his sensitivity is just an intellectual exercise - the only real feeling he is capable of is rage. All this guilt, his fears, his self-doubt, his contempt for the company, his disgust with the personnel, his disenchantment with management have distilled into a venomous rage which is destroying him. That his rage takes a turn to hilarity is a measure of the author's skill.

Charlie is a sucker for a beautiful voice, and eventually he meets the love of his life by breaking in on a phone call. His first date with Lynn gives us some hope for Charlie's future. But nutty Jimmy - in a double-date nightclub scene of low comedy and high tragedy - breaks up the budding romance. Charlie is too ashamed, too embarrassed to set things right with Lynn. He just doesn't call anymore, until it's too late.

There are scenes of such zany stupidity, such infinite tenderness, such macabre humor that the reader finds himself constantly off balance - and on the edge of his chair. Fast-paced nonstop action sweeps the reader to a numbing conclusion.

Gods Of Bell is a gripping existentialist novel about big business - its effect on thousands of employees and their effect on the hapless customers. But it's a lot more than that - it's a study of alienation, of day-to-day deterioration of the human spirit and the apathy that attends unrewarding jobs and saps the vitality of life itself.