IREBALL by Henry Hager


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Henry Hager's Fireball, despite its exciting title, is a slowball of wet clay and office politics. There is almost nothing to recommend it but its good intentions. The story is about a writing slug of an adman for a Detroit agency with an automotive account. A redhaired hillbilly hotshot (whose father went to Harvard) is hired by the agency because he knows cars internally, while the adman hero can't see past a paint job. The new man, Fireball Fannin, blows his horn for developing an ad campaign based on racing stock cars. The campaign is taken up. It falls apart when A Famous Racing Driver is killed driving a car for The Account. Fireball is fired, ties himself up around a telephone pole, but at the novel's end we see him driving off into the smokestacked sunset. Fireball's portrait has integrity without depth or beauty, and his monomania is not impressive. The novel's style is brisk-pedestrian, occasionally mixed with scrapped exhaust pipes and wise-mouthed observations like shards of old tire. The whole greasy beauty of racing escapes the author (one thinks happily of Faulkner's Pylon), while his office scenes are deader than rat's alley where the admen lost their Edsels. An assembly-line lemon.

Publisher: Doubleday