GILLIAM UNBUTTONED by Alfred Gillespie


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When a former promotion director at Time named Gillespie writes a bulging first novel about a promotion director at Talk named Gilliam, you're not astounded to encounter that autobiographical sense of everything-crammed-in: fatherhood, sonhood, brotherhood, marriage, romance, career, writer's block, favorite books, songs, movies, recipes. Here the customary angst is coated with goodnatured shtick, 49-year-old Pete Gilliam being a very funny fellow to stream a consciousness with (""no bomb in Gilliam"")--even when he's hospitalized for an embolism, abandoned by the wife he adores for a more physical type called Slap Dorney, and about to give up the ""best promotion job in New York"" for more literary endeavors. A recovered, out-of-work Pete finds solace in reestablishing camaraderie with his fierce, dying 90-year-old father (last words: ""I. . . voted. . . for . . . Stevenson"") and his guitar-plucking son--and in churning out a play (a modest Off-Off-B'way success) for the theatrical comeback of a colleague's beddable Maggie-Smith-like widow. But wife Helen, who signs her letters ""Love (and no foolin'),"" preys on his mind; Pete spies on her, sabotages her love-nest, and Galahadly follows her to Haiti (land of quickie divorces) to win her back. The happy ending will convince nobody but may educe a Disneyland smile, just as the fact that everybody in this novel talks cute, fast, and clever reduces credibility while relentlessly providing entertainment. So, skip ali intimations of profundity (especially the hinted Watergate/Business Morality parallels), and enjoy Gillespie-Gilliam's civilized vaudeville for the rambling road show it is.

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 1977
Publisher: Little, Brown