The world of pimp and prostitute meets its better-born uppers only by an accidental shooting at the end of the novel, when...

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THE GAUDY PLACE

The world of pimp and prostitute meets its better-born uppers only by an accidental shooting at the end of the novel, when an adolescent con named Arkie superficially wounds the white-haired old man who he thinks is going to become the pimp of the prostitute he loves. The man is actually Uncle Zeb, an aristocrat (in terms of North Carolina -- he uses his position on the city council to make advantageous real estate investments), who at the moment is trying to get his high school nephew Linn out of jail. Something mythic is going on (it always is in Chappell's novels) but what comes through is mainly a rather understandable physical revulsion of the well-off toward their dirty street hustler brothers, rather than the perhaps intended recognition that behind respectability lurk moral failings more dangerous precisely because they are less visible. For all the disconnectedness and a kind of verbal existentialism there is a realistic presentation of the denizens of the tenderloin district, written in a leaner prose than Chappell used in the past which reveals without duplicating the despairing banality of their lives.

Pub Date: March 14, 1973

ISBN: 0807119342

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1973