RUNNING by George Bower


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Sort of a sequel to November. . . December (1977)--and, like that first novel, a predictable, blandly sturdy tale with a hero who's far from engaging. He's Massachusetts State Senator Tom Jordan, 33, whose athletic brother B.D. was the adolescent protagonist of November. . . December. Now B.D. is a nationally known sports-star, while Tom is lagging behind in the Democratic primary race for the US Senate nomination. So Bower follows Tom through the last weeks of the campaign: the non-stop traveling and smiling; the attempts to keep supporters in line (one local power-broker bows to pressure and betrays Tom); the poll-watching; a debate; making a last-ditch TV ad (with glamorous B.D. flying in to lend a hand). But, in addition to the usual political problems, divorced Tom has some particular soap/ melodramatic ones: the ghost of his dead, failed-politico father; the vengeful tactics of his ex-father-in-law--which Tom fends off by reluctantly using some ugly blackmail; Tom's public affair with a glamorous black woman (""He was being hurt by . . . his reputation as a cunt hunter, a black cunt maker"") and a secret one with a politician's suicidal wife. ""He was divorced, about to use his sons in a television commercial, and had left a beautiful woman in the dark when she'd almost begged him not to go. What a grand guy he was. Mr. Morality. Pisser."" Despite such moments of critical introspection, however, Tom remains a shallow, self-satisfied sort whom few would want as their Senator; so there's little suspense or involvement as primary night approaches. And Bower's painfully contrived, have-it-both-ways ending--Tom loses, then his opponent dies in a car accident--merely adds irritation to indifference. A drab, humorless political slice-of-life overall, with a few well-observed details that may hold special interest for Massachusetts readers.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1982
Publisher: Seaview--dist. by Harper & Row