PHILIP'S CHAIR by Dale Eunson


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A writer recalls his boyhood best friend and retraces their friendship from WW I to the 1950's--in a gossipy, elegiac novel by the author of Homestead (1934), Up on the Rim (1970), and The Day They Gave Babies A way (1946). Narrator John Ewing is the son of a Montana farmer; his best friend, Philip Pearson, is the proud, reserved son of a small-town banker. From the outside, the Pearsons seem prosperous and happy, but there are secrets haunting the family: Philip's mother suffers a nervous breakdown, though no one will acknowledge it; and his ""father"" is not really his father. After a disastrous wheat crop, the Ewings lose their farm, and the bank folds. John's family moves to Los Angeles, where he finds work at the Goldwyn Studio; Philip joins him in Hollywood, but soon receives word of his ""father's"" apparent suicide, which enables Philip to attend Harvard. After his graduation, the two friends move to New York and share an apartment. New York in the Roaring Twenties is a heady experience, and the two soon find success as writers, first for the slick magazines and then for the movies. During the Depression and war years, the enigmatic Philip grows more and more secretive and remote from his friend. Following the revelation of Philip's homosexuality and his eventual tragic death, John struggles to understand their friendship. An engaging novel, with plenty of period detail for fans of Jazz Age glamour; cameos by silent film stars and literary lions ranging from Erich von Stroheim to P.G. Wodehouse; and a fair amount of insight into a complex, sometimes troubled, friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Mercury/dist. by Kampmann (9 East 40 St., New York, NY 10016)