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The BBR has so much right about it that the reader groans at its shortcomings. Tracy's most ambitious novel, it tells the story of Kelly Brinkman, a Phi Beta Kappa and superlative athlete, his early success and long, long fall. At Dorset, chi-chi prep school, Kelly meets an ape-like bonehead who becomes his life's greatest companion. The friend, Hobart, marries Kelly's next-door girlfriend who has always loved Kelly. Kelly and Hobart, both wealthy, are great athletes and carry the golden memory of their football teamwork through the Thirties and into the War with them. In Europe, where they are line officers and work side by side, Kelly chickens out and sends Hobart on a hopeless mission that GHQ has assigned to Kelly. Hobart is killed. Kelly cracks up and is shipped Stateside, where he hits the bottle. Involved in advertising, Kelly loses account after account. He is driven by the idea that he murdered Hobart to get his wife. Later, Kelly rapes his father's new young wife. Finally, he winds up as a bloated loser in Florida and gets a year in jail for passing a phony check in Hobart's name after Hobart has been dead 18 years. As a picture of the Thirties, Forties and Fifties, this novel stirs memories. The realism, though, feels only half-experienced and surely no one will stand up and shout for the prose. And the characters are essentially banal. But there is something constantly right about the situations that keeps the reader involved, and Kelly as an alcoholic as an impressive creation.

Pub Date: Dec. 27th, 1963
Publisher: Trident