CABLE HARBOR by Donald Bowie


Email this review


The first few pages of this exclusive-summer-resort satire are so crammed with bright, acerbic remarks that one looks forward to a sterling comic-fiction debut. Unfortunately, however, Bowie's plotting and characterization aren't up to his repartee--and this overlong novel all too soon bogs down in tiresome doings, some of them more soap-operatic than amusing. The scene is Cable Harbor, Maine, where chic city folks have summer houses and memberships at the Bath Club. Among the principal vacationers during this one summer: 40-ish divorcee Marie, who drinks and worries about being a ""fag hag"" (""The first step toward a cure is admitting to the problem. The next step. . . is to drop your subscription to Architectural Digest""); Valium-popping divorcee Vivian, who labors at self-improvement, dreams of opening a boutique, and is bitten by a rabid bat; young quasi-feminist Laura, who has lost her N.Y. publishing job and plunges into an outdoor sex idyll with gorgeous, rich, but mother-obsessed Jamie Lawrence (in a tent on the Lawrence estate); and a much-loved homosexual couple--effeminate Arthur and bisexual Herbert (whose affair with Marie will send poor Arthur to Manhattan for a weirdly platonic weekend with a beach-boy-hustler). Meanwhile, too, there are goings-on among the locals--primarily a tedious feud between Marjorie Hanson (wife of sex-obsessed caterer George) and butcher's wife Evelyn Booth: they compete for dominance on a local call-in radio show and for leadership of the fight against outside commercial developers. . . like Marie's ex-husband Dan, who pairs off with Marjorie when George skedaddles with a teeny-bopper. And there's also an undeveloped smidgin of murder mystery. But despite an occasional farcical inspiration (Marie accidentally starts a fire while dabbling with an aphrodisiac), none of these plotlines offers much involvement; and most of them peter out into sentimental clichÉs or cutesy twists. So the only real attraction here is Bowie's undeniable but sporadic wit--which may indeed be au courant, fine-tuned, and bitchy enough to please some savvy urban readers.

Pub Date: June 26th, 1981
Publisher: Evans