DADDY BOY by Carey Cameron

DADDY BOY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Growing up during weekends with Daddy Dearest in Beverly Hills, as experienced by one of Daddy Boy's four children by his divorced fourth wife--a magazine-cover ornament of the 30's and 40's. Millionaire-oilman Daddy Boy, with his six white limos and both a transient and permanent stable of ""showgirls,"" is an awesome megalomaniac--but first-novelist Cameron stalks the beast with fascination and a sharpened axe. Courtney's mother, the once-glamorous Elizabeth, arisen from ""quality"" Virginia poverty, divorces husband Augustus after she throws a candelabra at him and he drags her by the hair. In their nine-year marriage, the gleaming couple (Daddy is startlingly handsome) have had four kids, but it's the youngest, Courtney, that Daddy most loves--Courtney with the heavily drooping left eyelid that Daddy won't allow to have fixed, because then Courtney Girl might turn out to be pretty and marry and leave her Daddy Boy. Cosmetic surgery is one of Daddy's hobbies, however--a method of grinding the heel into the ambitions of his women servants and showgirls: ""Why don't you take a little tuck?"" (Daddy's largesse, in the form of scattering surgery and orthodontia about, seems rooted in his own story of Texas rags-to-riches, which features a ""crippled"" girl--a mention, like a jammed bass key, that Daddy boozily hammers away at). Finally, Elizabeth does spirit Courtney away for surgery, in spite of Daddy's hired spies--but, altogether, this is a difficult time, during which Courtney learns that although Mother loves the world, the needs of her kids (all wavering into trouble) require too small a focus for her to manage. Meanwhile, as Courtney goes through adolescence and stabilizes above a rocky family, Daddy's life is beginning to implode into dust and drink and illness. And eventually there's an end, of course, to the man Courtney never loved, whom she escaped to be as ""free as you please."" Yet back there in childhood is still a self like ""a crazy, built-up, jig-saw monument to Daddy."" With savage humor and a bitter, flat insistence on spilling the beans about Daddy Boy, Cameron has sketched a preposterous human being--along with the Life-styles of the Rich and Appalling. A possible sleeper.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1989
Publisher: Algonquin