Over the years the Fast who first grabbed us with the freshness of Freedom Road, Citizen Tom Paine, and later Spartacus has continued as a civil libertarian, mixing in the occasional novel of sheer macaronic entertainment (throw in anything)—such as his latest. Here is a Fast who tells that his characters are “bored to tears” or “still lovely to look at” and who “still basked in his approval.” Is this writing? Well, it’s storytelling and at that Fast, if no stylist, is still fearlessly bland, upbeat, and happy with what comes out of his head, as are his readers. This time, the story centers on a high-society dinner party out in Greenwich, Connecticut, attended by eight people who nonetheless prove out a vision of America that looks into widespread guilt and the need for redemption. Most interesting is a bestselling writer, not much like Fast (who lives in Greenwich) but who struggles with an unfinished novel that has a theme much like Greenwich’s, where the good life masks evil.
It doesn’t have to be a classic if it comes from the heart. And Fast smiles last, this being perhaps his 45th book (or, by another count, his 80th or so).