DANGLER by Charles Gaines


Email this review


Kenneth Dangler, a very rich young WASP--educated at Andover and Harvard, married to the equally rich, capricious Erica--has settled on a business scheme with a certain ""pith and moment"" to it: Dangler's International Adventures Camp, in northern New Hampshire. Guests, all lilywhites of the rulingest class, pay $2000 a week to wrestle a tame bear, ride whitewater rapids (the bottom of the canoe is tracked to an underwater channel, so the danger is only illusory), and confront a carefully modified wilderness. But Andrew Cobb, an old schoolmate of Dangler's who is hired as the camp lawyer, watches while Dangler's aims embolden and his mission takes on serious intent: Dangler is now determined to toughen the rich so that they can re-take control of society. So he begins to make his wilderness encounters truly dangerous--no more playacting. A Winter Expedition up the steep local mountain is the climax, with a very hokey, melodramatic turn--a doublecross by the resort manager (who's dazzled by Dangler's wife Erica)--that puts everyone in real life-and-death danger. Gaines (Stay Hungry) doesn't quite decide what he wants this book to be--a Gatsby-ish meditation on the rich? a Thomas McGuane-like satire, à la The Sporting Club?--until rather late in the game. But by that time his strongest suit--action writing--has taken over and the winter climb on the icy slopes is legitimately gripping. With obvious indebtedness to films like Westworld: a sometimes overly ambitious and snide but generally taut novel, full of rich, if derivative, cinematic potential.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1980
Publisher: Simon & Schuster