BONGO by Arnold E. Grisman


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Early to Rise (1958 and a first novel) was a scatter-crazy story about a young man caught in more than one trap. This is another young whither-ing for Bongo-Nick West -- has drifted from a motherless childhood with a pessimistic father, to college, to tail gunner, and now, after a session at a school of the drama, to a summer stock engagement. A worrier and aware of being a five year failure, color his approach; his rehearsals with the comic, Fisty Fuller, seem to prove nothing; the actual performances of the operettas prove that he is the receiving end of brutal, slapstick maulings -- which bring down the house. It is because of the arrival of once famous actress Elfrida Mitchell, wife of the director Eddie Mack, that Nick gets a chance to pay back Fisty Fuller, that the company achieves substance with the local gentry, and that Eddie Mack learns a wife is not too hard to return to. There is the interlude of a commemorative pageant -- which, like all those in fiction, ends in low, disruptive comedy, of the persuasions used on the wealthy, but miserly, backer of the company; and of Nick's own footless dreams of romance. There's a more compact quality here, a controlled handling of the humor-- and pitifulness -- in the young, and the older, situations that put this in better company than the previous book.

Pub Date: Jan. 18th, 1960
Publisher: Harper