EW Staff
May 29, 1998 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Though Qaddafi may be a competent tyrant, this strange collection of the Libyan leader’s short stories proves he’s got a ways to go before he’s the Middle Eastern John Updike. May we suggest a stint at Tripoli’s Writers’ Workshop to brush up on, say, plot, character, dialogue, tone, and coherence? Qaddafi often ignores these in favor of the rant, reminding one of Dennis Miller, albeit slightly funnier. In Escape To Hell and Other Stories, you’ll learn that he loathes cities, Zionists, Margaret Thatcher, and humidity. He loves the countryside and artichokes. Once in a while, you will get a hint of a plot, such as in a story called ”The Suicide of the Astronaut,” which is about…the suicide of an astronaut. Or as Qaddafi writes in an admirably minimalist final sentence, ”The astronaut then committed suicide…” C-

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