Dennis Murphy and Rufus Blue are old buddies, both in their late 40s; they came separately (via the Army) to California,...



Dennis Murphy and Rufus Blue are old buddies, both in their late 40s; they came separately (via the Army) to California, they've been around, they're a brace of veteran hard-knock takers. And now, when they're not hauling garbage for a private carter in the Hollywood Hills, they're still working as movie stuntmen--though they get even more dangerous, high-speed action in their everyday personal lives: picking up empty-brained, brassy L.A. bar women; sleeping with them in Murphy's dilapidated Open Road RV; and then suffering the after-hells of comparative remorse, thinking back on their former wives, their children, their old stabs at stability and respectability. Inevitably, then, this sort of life leads to disaster: after winding up in a particularly vicious bar brawl, Murphy lands in jail--and Blue is in the VA hospital with a concussion (the fifth in his stuntman's lifetime), from which he'll never really recover. (After a heavy sex-and-booze session one subsequent night, he collapses--and the book's best, most vigorously involving scene is a totally convincing description of Murphy giving Blue CPR.) Young, a screenwriter, shows evidence of that background in this first novel--with pages of hip, oblique, scarred-hard repartee (too much and too arch) and visually wacky scenes (Blue and Murphy racing two garbage trucks). But even more problematic is his effortfully clever, spiky prose style: ""They fell into shorthand. The blow and jail and hospitals had only shortened it, expanded implicitude. They ruled out many words and subjects, there were things they didn't talk or think about. Women and sport and sex and telltale and nonsense sure, but not their emotions. They lay in the shortest of shorthands, ish kabibble. They occurred and were passed on; they occurred and were."" And this sort of pretentiousness does little to conceal or elevate the essentially sentimental male-bonding story here--an occasionally disarming movie-style plot which would be better on the screen or in a far less self-conscious narrative.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1981

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