That's Table #47 in the Waldorf-Astoria Ballroom--where a group of old acquaintances are sitting for the award dinner...



That's Table #47 in the Waldorf-Astoria Ballroom--where a group of old acquaintances are sitting for the award dinner honoring Bernard Bosculus, new president of the National Broadcasting System; and, during the dinner, a series of 1-knew-him-when flashbacks fill in the sporadically diverting, largely humdrum career of ""Bibby"" Bosculus, an un-charismatic figure who never comes close to deserving a novel all his own. First we meet young Bibby at the Academy of the Three Saints, being trained for the Greek Orthodox priesthood--till a homosexual advance from a mentor/priest turns him off. Then Bibby is seen as a young English teacher at Myra Tate Community College: the low-level schooling is nicely evoked (""We give them as much input as they can handle""); Bibby is promptly entranced by sexy student Karen, with steamy fantasies (""He naked and straddling her with his banana-penis unpeeled"") leading quickly to seduction and marriage. In the next sequence, Karen and Ph.D. candidate Bibby are living in Long Island suburbia with son Brucie--but when Bibby takes a summer job working for a Nader-like crusader in Washington, both spouses discover infidelity. . . and divorce. Then comes Bibby's lowest ebb: he lives in a shabby Lower-East-Side pad, has a lonely, desperate sex-life (poor-man's-Richard-Price material), sells smock art for a living--which involves a few amusing moments. And finally there is Bibby's fast, unconvincing rise in the TV world: he begins as an assistant on the NBS ""Evening Round-up,"" becomes associate producer, emphasizes the ""real people"" approach, marries model Jennifer, and is suddenly a top executive. . . after trampling on a friend or two. Unfortunately, however, Hochstein never makes Bibby a vivid (or even coherent) character--certainly not the sort needed to sustain this recycling of the venerable All About Eve format; the relationships with the various narrators are thin or bland. And the individual sequences rarely develop the comic flair shown in Stepping (1977), while the show-biz atmosphere is uncommonly flat. (Hochstein doesn't even bother to create new first names for the passing roman à clef celebrities: ""Burr Davis"" is the movie-star who once posed in a G-string; ""Walter Evans"" is the ""dean of network news commentators."") A bubble of stylish satire here and there; otherwise--oddly listless treatment, neither credible nor inventively comic, of the celebrity-in-flashback pop/fiction formula.

Pub Date: June 10, 1983


Page Count: -

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1983