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COAST TO COAST by Frederic Raphael


by Frederic Raphael

Pub Date: May 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-945774-42-7

“Have you ever read a novel that’s all dialogue?” “William Gaddis. But hardly any.” “Well, this is. With a handful of descriptive paragraphs scattered about.” —And Raphael’s dialogue is famous. The British TV miniseries The Glittering Prizes, some 19 novels, including After the War (1989). Screenplays? The upcoming Stanley Kubrick movie, Eyes Wide Shut with the Cruises, Julie Christie’s Darling (an Oscar for the script), and that feast of bickering, Two for the Road, with Audrey and Albert.” “Good credits!” “Mmm. Coast to Coast is another road picture with a zinger from left field for an ending. A married couple, bound for divorce, drive an antique Jaguar from New England to Los Angeles to attend their son’s wedding. Of course, they wound each other all the way, largely about the adulteries bringing on their divorce, and the bloodletting gets worse at each of several stops (Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle), particularly at one with Barnaby’s old buddy and Marion’s ex-lover Hal. Once they deliver the Jaguar to their son Benjamin as a wedding present, they’ll split forever. Or will the drive help them work through their problems? The hero is retired sitcom writer Barnaby Pierce, who groaned through several seasons of writing Sergeant Bimbo scripts while his wife Marion stayed home and raised their four kids, growing ever more restive. The subtext to the Jaguar gift is that Benjamin was driving Barnaby’s Chevy on an icy road when he crashed, killing their son Christopher, and now has survivor’s guilt. Did the death do in Barnaby and Marion’s marriage? Or perhaps it was their unbalanced daughter Zara/Zenobia? Well, when the wedding comes, it’s the wedding from hell, with shocks that kill.” “Hmm! Is the talk brilliant?” “Very much so, especially the LA shoptalk. As the anguish deepens, you adjust quickly to knitting all the details together from dialogue. And the jump-cutting between speakers has a Cubist sharpness that should delight.— —All told, one of Raphael’s most successful works.—