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Raucher (Summer of 42) is a very funny man, especially when it comes to sex, and the dirty parts are by far the best parts of this overlong, always readable but never affecting, show-biz cute-love story. In alternating chapters, wisecracking Ben Webber and wise-cracking Ginnie Maitland tell all. Would-be writer Ben comes to N.Y. at 21 in 1949 and gets free luxury lodging in exchange for servicing three insatiable stewardesses (including enormous Jessica--""I thought it was the Hindenburg but it had beautiful eyes""). Then comes office-boy/P-R work at 20th Century-Fox and a traumatic, disastrous army stint. Meanwhile, virginal but knowledgeable rich-girl Ginnie escapes from her hideous mother, sister, and brother-in-law and comes to N.Y. to be a dancer. Eventually, after a detour to invest in a Kosher-Japanese restaurant, she scores as a Guys and Dolls Broadway chorine and as the only white girl in an all-black nightclub dance act. Time now for Ben and Ginnie to meet: love/lust at first sight--rising careers for both of them in TV (she's a Tonight show regular) and movies (he's a momentarily hot screenwriter). But Ben has a thing going with an older woman named Maggie, and Ginnie walks in on them in the act--and guess who Maggie is? ""Her mother. . . . Her mother jerking-off her boyfriend--right in her face. . . Christ, was there ever a more implausible wrinkle in the unraveling of a tragi-comic love story?"" The answer is no, and it's lifted from The Graduate besides. But never mind. Ginnie and Ben will ultimately (1953) get back together, and along the way there'll be enough name-dropping show-biz dazzle (both nostalgic and satiric) and enough good-natured bawdiness to muffle any pretensions to a real-people love story, which--despite some sketching in of big, filmable emotional moments--ain't to be found here. Overextended, and not for the strait-laced or the serious-minded; but a fair measure of slick, smart, raunchy entertainment.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1978
Publisher: Delacorte