FALSE COIN by Harvey Swados


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This is Harvey Swados' third and best novel, even though it has some of the faults of the earlier books. Its first theme is Ben Warder's successful struggle to remain true to an ideal that is vital to him, in spite of the opposition of people he likes and admires and the backing of those whom he despises. A second theme is that embodied in his ideal-- freedom for the artist. Ben is a first rate recording engineer who joins a group of creative artists to work on the Pilot Project, which is an experiment in the production and distribution of art to a mass public in an atmosphere freed of commercial and other pressures. Monk Maloney is writing a novel for which Rex Rector is writing music. It will then be made into a play, a movie, an opera, a television show, and a radio program, all of them to be directed by Eddie Bedlam and acted in by his wife, Joyce Jessup. Also involved are Fred Peterson, who thought up the Pilot Project, sold it, and administers it, and a board of trustees full of outstanding figures in industry, government, science and mass publishing. Most are in it for something they can get out of it: money, power, prestige, an audience. Ben finds that the creators are having to hedge and trim as much in the rarefied air of the Project as they would have in the market place and he takes a firm stand. The fascination lies in the development of the themes and the satiric presentation of the characters (a roman a clef?). The flaws are in the writing, plotting, and detailed working out of characters. False Coin too often reads, as have Mr. Swados' earlier novels, as if the author were not enough interested, or too preoccupied with ideas, to be as true to his characters and their story as he is to what he wants to say with them. Nevertheless, the balance is way over on the plus side in what is basically an exciting, intriguing novel.

Pub Date: Jan. 11th, 1959
Publisher: Little, Brown-A.M.P.