DEPARTING FRIENDS by Bernard Glemser


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All about has-been novelist Nicholas Hart, who, in spite of (or because of) being seen from a dozen different viewpoints, remains a pale and unappealing character--at best a very poor man's Sebastian Dangerfield. About ten years ago, Hart had a big bestseller (Blood on the Snow, a tale of star-crossed lovers in Soviet Russia), but since then it's been all downhill: lousy reviews, rotten sales, boozing, drugs, and writer's block. And now, on the eve of Hart's guest-of-honor appearance at the posh Quill Club, various friends and acquaintances--his publisher, his agent, his wife, his babysitter, etc.--reminisce, tell what they think of Hart's books and the man himself. Some of this is mildly amusing in its rather arch send-up of the book world (Hart's publisher is ""Craven Press""), but Hart is still unengaging and undefined when most of this talk is over. So there's no preparation for what follows the Quill Club appearance: Hart goes on a berserk rampage--assaulting the person and property of a comely young Craven Press employee-admirer, picking fights at a dinner party, and stabbing the family babysitter while attempting to rape her. It's a mystery what Glemser is up to in this book (satire? character study? melodrama?); but, despite the craftsmanship in devising all those narrator voices and the effectiveness of a scene or two, no novel can succeed on any terms with a supposedly charismatic central figure who never comes even half-alive.

Pub Date: June 15th, 1979
Publisher: Doubleday