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Whatever else -- and it's a very big else -- few writers can upstage Irwin Shaw when it comes to the shiny skills he applies to telling a seductive story well. In the half-light of Byzantium which in this case is Cannes where the air is thick with diminishment and failure. Not only the film industry's but also the once exceptional talent of Jesse Craig, an older lion and producer, who has been drinking too much and copping out on the demands of the IRS, his broker, his cunning and competitive wife whom he's now divorcing, as well as his decision to get back in the action with another vehicle. Perhaps it might be his own script which he has written pseudonymously. At 48 Jesse, however emotionally insolvent, has lost none of his powerful personal attraction -- whether for Constance, perhaps the best of many young women he's ever had who's in Paris, or for Gail, a young interviewer thinking of doing a piece on him -- ""The Once and Future Has-Been."" And with one of his daughter's arrivals his time and hands are even fuller before he goes back to New York, to the massive hemorrhage he barely survives, and to that last death-directed option. Shaw has managed to invest all this middle-aged wine and roses with a kind of allure and regret so that even though it's destined for the marketplace a man like Jesse Craig has turned his back on, you respect it for what it is rather than what it once might have been. Plush loge seat entertainment.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1973
Publisher: Delacorte