Ex-hippie and ex-druggie Montana businessman and cattle-rancher Frank Copenhaver is winding down: ""the man who had always...



Ex-hippie and ex-druggie Montana businessman and cattle-rancher Frank Copenhaver is winding down: ""the man who had always been just ahead of events was now slightly behind them."" He's going broke, he's lost his wife, and his daughter is keeping company with a Montana-Firster fascist-type who is Frank's own age or thereabouts. Frank--as the good McGuane character he is--is given to outsized and far-fetched screw-ups and high-jinks, but error isn't saving him now. Nothing is. This errant yet debonair loser--McGuane's perpetual protagonist--gains something with age, though--as does McGuane. A lovely stylist always, McGuane has been handicapped by having to jab at a hip counterculture as silly as his own dandy-ish characters were. But now, with the passing of that counterculture, with only its relics like Frank Copenhaver left, it--like Frank--takes on poignancy, and McGuane is free to become a kind of American Kingsley Amis. Unloved and unwanted by the Zeitgeist (which prefers the Perot-like doings of the Montana-Firster), Frank is an unchained eye in a novel that shares the tang of liberation and is all over the map as he thinks, for example, now about McDonald's (""Americans had overtaken their product line, if he was any judge, waiting for McThis and McThat. If there were only a few departures or insights--McShit on the toilets, anything--it would be so much easier to take one's seat in this American meeting place and not feel such despair that the world was going on without you""), now about the disappeared drug-culture (""And what fun those darn drugs were. Marvelous worlds aslant, a personal speed wobble in the middle of a civilization equally out of control. And it was wonderful, however short, to have such didactic views on everything, everyone coming down from the mountain with the tablets of stone. Hard to say what it all came to now. Skulls in the desert""). Funny, sad, deliciously written (albeit with dumb plot curlicues): McGuane's moat amiable novel, perhaps his best.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 1992

ISBN: 0679747788

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992