MERELY PLAYERS by Gregory Mcdonald


Email this review


Slow and talky, but not without a certain literate grace, this third volume in a four-part romance/saga is made palatable--but no more--by the considerable talent that Mcdonald (Fletch, Flynn, etc.) deploys to better effect in his genre offerings. Free spirit Janet Twombly is in Paris escaping the stifling Norman Rockwell future awaiting her if she marries Dan Prescott, her now-ordained high-school boyfriend back home in Maine. To immensely successful young jazz musician David MacFarlane, Janet represents those values she flees, while she sees adventure in him. He moves in, though she brushes aside his marriage proposal. Dan, in pursuit, enrolls in International Seminary and comes to Paris. Through black expatriate poet John Nelson (also in love with Janet), Dan finds Janet with David, and selflessly insists they marry. Dan performs the ceremony at a much-publicized demimonde soiree, displeasing church superiors. On the honeymoon/concert tour, Janet demonstrates no more consideration or responsibility than she ever has, and David's music suffers. (Meanwhile, his idiot-savant sax sideman, Chump Hardy, does a variety of drugs, leading to a motorcycle accident.) When David's in NYC, Janet gets an abortion, and upon his return, leaves him for newly wealthy John. Pace the many Fletch fans who'll inevitably complain, Mcdonald should certainly be allowed to write what he wants, but even on its own terms, this doesn't shine. Bratty Janet doesn't justify all the fuss, and the talk about music, meaning, faith, and integrity can be sophomoric. Merely Players just gets by.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Hill--dist. by Kampmann (9 East 40th St., New York, NY 10016)