BABY, COME ON INSIDE by David Wagoner


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Mr. Wagoner's novel of an aging, wasted, show business giant points up the self-destructive ironies of celebrityitis--it's a one way ticket to freaksville and you can't stop the stares, baby. Popsie Meadows, ""the Voice of America,"" returns to his hometown after thirty years. He suffers blackouts, his vocal chords are rusty, he's approaching a paunchy fifty and he's drowning in a world of sybaritic sycophants. He's come back to find out where the loss began, but the party follows him too closely--it starts with a hotel orgy, spreads through the small town causing a riot at the fairgrounds and climaxes at ""the Cornflower Festival"" parade which Popsy leads. His finest hour, a self-ridiculing and town-castigating speech combined with a huge charity donation is a fine snap at bourgeois boobery as the natives hesitantly applaud. In the meantime his search for self takes him through dusty neon clubs where teenage singers miaow, back home to his father's sneer and mother's futile homilies, and finally into an impulse marriage to a young dusky-throated warbler. No roots, no rest and snatches of checkbook contentments. A severe, depressing presentation, perhaps too monaural for most but very well done.

Pub Date: July 24th, 1968
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux