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Poor Little Rich Boys : TOO RICH: The High Life and Tragic Death of King Farouk, By William Stadiem (Carroll & Graff: $22.95; 448 pp.)

June 23, 1991|Dave Shiflett | Shiflett is deputy editorial-page editor of the Rocky Mountain News

Well, perhaps we should forgive such lapses into frivolity, especially because the author also supplies us with information that really does allow a reader to get a handle on the subject, such as the fact that the king counted among his prized possessions the stuffed body of a hermaphrodite goat. What's more, Farouk was a deeply frivolous man, whose most impressive organ, from any viewpoint, was his stomach, through which passed enough animals to sink Noah's Ark.

During one quail-eating contest, for instance, the king polished off 50 of the luscious birds (his challenger conked out after three dozen). He often ate a dozen or so eggs for breakfast (along with his beloved Rice Krispies), larding down the main course with the internal organs of partridges.

Then there were the oysters, chickens, lobsters, lambs and other members of the barnyard brotherhood, countless numbers of which slid down the royal hatch, to be followed by creamy desserts and chocolates. It probably isn't stretching things to say that if one could harness all the animals the king ate during his short life (1920-1965), the team would be powerful enough to drag the Sphinx to the gates of the National Zoo.

Farouk died in 1965, having just eaten, among other things, a lobster that may have been poisoned by Nasser's agents. The last years weren't his best: His attempts to get a job in public relations failed, though a Danish firm tried to hire him as an elephant trainer. He left behind a huge collection of clothes, pornography and Uncle Scrooge comic books. And, of course, calories, as the king weighed somewhere around 300 pounds at the time of his last supper. Ripeness was all for Farouk.

His body was moved several times, finally being buried among the squatters in the City of the Dead. Thus this black hole of a man, who took in much and produced very little, disappeared into the eternal maw.

One almost wonders if the Earth belched.

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