ORIGINAL COLOR by Hugh Kennedy

ORIGINAL COLOR

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A follow-up to 1993's endearing Everything Looks Impressive, with a whiplash funny sprint through the merciless memory of the late-1980s overstuffed art scene. Kennedy's book might well have been titled Everything Looks Impressive, but Not for Long. Why? Because in the burgeoning career of recent Princeton grad Fred Layton, the 1987 Black Monday stock market crash is right around the corner. Not that Fred's new employer, unscrupulous art dealer and all-around nouveau riche reptile Nelson Albright, gives a hoot. This, after all, is a man who owes Sotheby's millions. Promised by Albright that he'll be a millionaire by the time he's 30, Fred settles into indentured servitude at Albright's Boston gallery, contending with the boss's tidal caprices, sidestepping the plots of a backstabbing fellow salesman, developing jaundiced art-world versions of collegiality and friendship, and struggling--peripherally--with his homosexuality. While wooing several major clients, including a former cocaine trafficker and a wealthy North Carolina society matron, Fred learns how to lie through his teeth, improvise art history, and pass off damaged prints as rare art. He even gets picked up by a luscious Texas antiques dealer, but he fails to muster the gumption to betray the supremely self-interested Albright. After the crash, Albright's already shaky finances undergo a full-fledged assault from a rival dealer, Oksana Outka, who raids her main competitor's clientele and schemes to have Albright exiled from the art world. Fred makes a hobby of rescuing Albright from the abyss, but the flamboyant gallerist's abusive, blowtorch personality leaves Fred dreaming of escape, and the action concludes with a memorable confrontation at a Sotheby's auction. Kennedy showcases a talent for deft plotting, wonderfully bitchy dialogue, and for savage caricature, memorably rendering the hypermoneyed as a pack of jackals mistaking the smell of dollars for good taste. A droll, madcap, witty, downright old-fashioned romp that mixes dynamite satire with featherweight tragedy. Kennedy was one to watch. Now he's one to wait for.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-385-47736-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1996




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