An engrossing, bittersweet comedy--the seventh novel from the author of Rebel Powers (1993), among others--about sexual...

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GOOD EVENING MR. & MRS. AMERICA and All the Ships at Sea

An engrossing, bittersweet comedy--the seventh novel from the author of Rebel Powers (1993), among others--about sexual confusion, Catholic guilt, and Washington in the wake of the JFK administration. Walter Marshall, an energetic 19-year-old, has, in 1964, just realized that he may be wasting his time at the D'Alessandro School of Broadcasting--for, instead of emulating his idol Edward R. Murrow, Walter now suspects that what he really desires is to follow in the footsteps of his other idol, the recently deceased chief executive. Problems rapidly develop. Walter manages to propose to two different older women--co-worker Alice Kane, whose ardent expectation of the physical satisfactions thereby promised conflicts with Waiter's strenuously maintained purity, and Natalie Bowman, a vaguely European beauty whose ""tall, lithe figure and. . . dark, aristocratic features reminded him of Jackie Kennedy."" Waiter's inability to say no to any opportunity or entanglement forces him into best-friendship with the awkward, unshakably optimistic Albert Waple, a wonderfully hapless plot to save the D'Alessandro School from its owner's gambling debts, conflict with the equally turbulent romantic life of Waiter's widowed mother, and, best of all, a sit-in demonstration at a Maryland restaurant in company with a courageous elderly black woman who may be the most influential of his several mentors and role models. The novel ends with Walter (figuratively) bloodied but unbowed, shorn of his handsome head of hair and many of his illusions, but newly committed to still another ideal. He's a charmer, and the book's lightly worn seriousness of purpose is effectively and pleasingly varied by several very funny scenes--including Alice's heartfelt attempt to surrender to her beau, and Waiter's intricately detailed confessions to his bewildered parish priest. It's nice to see Bausch extending his range in a novel that compares favorably with the best work he has done.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996