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A sweetly amusing fairy tale about all the nice things that happen to a college teacher who anonymously publishes a dirty book.

Once upon a time, in the California town of Seven Hills, there lived an assistant professor named Ezra Gordon who was such a sad sack that when he and his old college friend Isaac Schwimmer met a pair of ladies at a restaurant, Ike’s pickup invited him to bed, and Ezra’s sold him insurance. But all that changes once Ike, a publisher of adult fiction who couldn’t agree more with Ezra’s perception that he’s on a downward slope, offers him a contract. Even before Ezra’s begun work, pinups start coming onto him—one of them, Ike’s neighbor Tessa Miles, inspiring delirious chapters in his burgeoning opus—and when he returns to the depths of Beuhler College, you’d think he was wearing seven-league boots. His old girlfriend Carol Dimsdale, Beuhler counsel and daughter of the fearsome Baptist college chaplain, apologizes for her chronic coldness; dazzling Tessa follows him from L.A. into his classroom to strike awe into the hearts of his students, attract propositions from Ezra’s colleagues, and evoke an even more forthright reaction from Ezra; and both women offer the still-passive lady-killer their undying loyalty while asking nothing in return. (No word on how his winning attitude affects Ezra’s weight or complexion.) When Every Inch a Lady, by one E.A. Peau, is published, rocketing to the top of’s charts and garnering praise from John Updike, Ike begs for a sequel. Some clouds arise when Peau is traced to Beuhler, but fans of the Brothers Grimm will recognize these travails as only a final testing ground for the plucky, vacuous hero.

A decorously risqué update of Lucky Jim with a climax out of The Big Clock. Tarloff (Face-Time, 1999) by-passes the normal pleasures of fiction to focus entirely on chastely high-concept fantasy.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-609-60468-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2000