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 A first novel by the young actor featured in the Dead Poet's Society has a lot in common with the world of his film Reality Bites: It's a young man's idea of hip romance, with plenty of gestures to satisfy teeny-bopper fans. Hawke's mercifully brief story is really an extended hissy fit over being dumped by the type of girl his narrator doesn't usually date--she's a bit plump, rather graceless, not beautiful by conventional standards. She is, of course, smart, which is important to 21-year-old William Harding, a working actor in New York City who admits he's got by on his good looks and charm. Certainly not his intellect--he's impressed by his ability to recite a long poem by Gregory Corso by heart in response to Sarah's reading to him from Adrienne Rich. His own mother warns him about the limits of life as ``a handsome bullshitter,'' but William blunders along, full of his own importance as he lovingly records his every little foible and endearing personality trait, which seem to include smashing furniture when he's frustrated. Sarah, meanwhile, withholds sex, and hands him a tract on ``Rape and the Twentieth-Century Woman.'' Pouting William must use a condom when the big moment finally comes. A Parisian interlude, where he alludes with false modesty to his career, contributes to their breakup--she realizes that she needs space, and William is sent packing, back to his beautiful, empty-headed girlfriend from the past--but not before reciting Shakespeare to Sarah from the street outside her apartment. This clumsily written novel takes itself very seriously, although it is mostly content to name but not to show: We have to take Hawke's vague descriptions of ``brilliant'' friends, ``great'' books, ``stupid'' hair on faith, and then there's that ``French'' moustache on a waiter in . . . France. Skip the movie, if there is one. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-316-54083-8
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1996


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