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This substantial novel covering the first half century is the most ambitious and perhaps successful book Longstreet has yet produced and it manages to individuate the literary scene decade by decade. Its three main characters are Bill Kite, a little magazine editor and litterateur; Eliot Tjaden, a novelist ranked with Joyce and Faulkner; and Nora Pages, who summarizes all 20th century heroines, including Lady Brett, Catherine Barkley and Molly Bloom. All three are quite definite, though many of their situations are archetypal (such as the world-famous drunken writer's return to Princeton). Kite and Eliot are on speaking terms with ""Ernest"" and ""Scott"" and Bunny Wilson, etc. The book's method is to shuffle chapters in the past and present, with backgrounds in Rome, Greece, San Francisco and New York. Kite and Eliot have attended Princeton where Scott later uses part of Eliot ""Jay"" Tjaden for Jay Gatsby. They continue together through the postwar little magazine world, deteriorate through the '30's when both become alcoholics. Nora's role is too mercurial to describe here, but she comes through handsomely as the woman who should never have taken up with writers. Occasionally the novel's expansiveness verges on soap opera; there's a good deal of graphic sex; but it's readable as blazes.

Pub Date: Jan. 24th, 1965
Publisher: Simon & Schuster