ALMOST A LIFE by B. H. Friedman


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Like Museum (1974), this biography-within-a-novel of one Jeff MacMaster, photojournalist, draws on Friedman's own life among the New York artists. The ambience is on-the-scene chic, from Provincetown to Harvard Square to the Museum of Modern Art, and, all in all, it's quite authentic. Friedman doesn't hesitate to tell you that his archetype for the relationship between C. E. (""Cart"") Wilson and MacMaster is Boswell and Johnson and that Wilson's life of MacMaster will develop a double exposure of hero and anti-hero. But there's more ingenious trickery than that at work here, since Wilson's account of how he came to write his authorized version, the conventional, glossy ""Snapshots of MacMaster,"" turns out to be yet a second pull-no-punches biography in which Wilson tells all--about the artist's hard-drinking death wish, his first Hollywood marriage with its neurotic offspring, his casual affair with a runaway teenybopper--much to the dismay of the second Mrs. MacMaster who initiates legal actions that bring still other prototypical relationships (Kennedy vs. Manchester, Hemingway vs. Hotchner) into focus. Friedman writes easily and well about things that will be familiar to New Yorker readers, though perhaps too haut exclusive for those outside that tight little island.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1975
Publisher: Viking