PUBLIC MEN by Allen Drury


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The recently deceased Pulitzer-winner's 20th novel, again a big book about Washington, but also a survey of the sundry geriatric characters first introduced to us in the author's ""University Novels,"" Toward What Bright Glory? and Into What Far Harbor?. Drury's a high-spirited and dreadful stylist. Still, there's some fun in his romping run-on sentences and larger-than-life cardboard figures, mouthing off paralyzing nullities as they batter straw horses, The leads here are Alpha Zeta frat brothers who attended Stanford during the years 1939--41. Now in his early 80s, US Senator Richard Emmett ""Willie"" Wilson looks back on his earlier run for the presidency, sending out invitations to his remaining Alpha Zeta buddies for a reunion in 2001. They include Randy Carrero, a cardinal in the Vatican; Hack Haggerty, a diplomat; waspishly vile-tongued Renny Suratt, Stanford political science prof; Tim Bates of the Washington Inquirer; Tony Andrade, a California vintner; Dr. Guy Unruh of Honolulu; North McAllister, retired Salt Lake City doctor; and about ten others, all chock-full of chat. Back when Senator Willie ran for the presidency, he wondered whether his first son Latt would marry Ti-Anna, daughter of Stanford's brilliant first black student (who was murdered by a thrown brick). Latt was a war protester in the '60s who nonetheless went to Vietnam, got a leg blown off, returned home, became an even stronger activist, and later ran for the House. Meanwhile, Willie commits infidelities while wife Donna is fatally ill, and raises a second family. When he runs for top office, his campaign is compromised by gay son Amos, who at last commits suicide with his lover, Joel. A middlebrow time-passer for the Drury faithful.

Pub Date: Dec. 2nd, 1998
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Scribner