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Welcome, nostalgia fans--to The Way We Were back in the Summer of '42 when the war went on From Here to Eternity and ran away with The Best Years of Our Lives. . . . Yes, strange but true, Myrer (in earlier books strictly a battleground man) has resurrected every clichÉ of Forties books and films and soldered it to almost every clichÉ of Seventies nostalgia-thonning. So of course we begin with a flashback, as blandly lovable narrator George tells his son-in-law-to-be how it all started, back at Harvard in '40, when gawky, naive George was one of a band of flashy freshmen known as the Five Fabulous Fusiliers: wild, handsome Russ; cynically ambitious Dal; feisty Irish Terry; and French man-of-the-world/doomedhero Jean-Jean, who comes equipped with that gleaming Packard Super Eight convertible. Dal and George both pine for lovely Chris of Radcliffe, but she only has eyes for Russ, who sort of loves her but is hung up on an irresistible bad-woman from the city. And they all go driving, petting, rah-rahing, and dancing to ""BG,"" the Count, and Attic Shaw. But then--WAR--and one by one, off the boys march, passing on the keys to the convertible, leaving Chris (pregnant by Russ) to marry Dal. Time out for combat clichÉs--ethnic camaraderie, sexy Italian wenches, USO (abovementioned bad-woman is now a big star entertaining the troops)--and, after the war, disillusionment clichÉ: Russ becomes famous novelist but falls apart, George gives up academic dreams for security and so-so marriage, Terry plunges into politics (lots of guest appearances by ""irrepressible, mischievous"" JFK). No chestnut is left unroasted, and Myrer does a toasty, tasteful enough job of it--""fab-u-loso"" dialogue, good-naturedly ironic tone, professional scene-setting. But 552 pages of ""Slobbing down memory lane"" and ""Losing your innocence"" requires more than formulas and competence to give it momentum, and not enough is made of that snazzy convertible for it to be a driving, connecting force. So: a pleasant but tensionless sentimental journey--one part soap, one part tinsel, one part shrapnel, all parts pat and marketably predictable.

Pub Date: March 29th, 1978
Publisher: Putnam