ANOTHER LINE by James Heller Levinson


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First fiction about a madcap fabric salesman--a total phony with intellectual pretensions and an uncontrollable libido--that might work as a skit on Saturday Night Live, but that, as a novel, wears thin very quickly. David J. Hoffman is not only a traveling textile sales representative. He also has a literary agent to represent ""the most important literary achievement since Joyce's Ulysses,"" and a ""sexual tail"" that ""begins to wag"" every few paragraphs: ""I have been with women who are very exciting in bed"". . .""Packing bothers me. That's what mothers are for and wives and girlfriends"". . .""The root of the problem was that I didn't feel applauded."" If Levinson developed an all-out Rabelaisian satire on such riffs, perhaps he might have pulled it off. Instead, the tone shifts too often to do the book any good and settles frequently for a tongue-in-cheek celebration of such a jerk. An endless frantic litany of thinly drawn characters and quickly sketched instances fails to support a story that has only a few one-liners here and there to recommend it. Between soft porn and pretentious pronouncements (""I am a clinician of consciousness and know how to reveal its contents""), between allusions to everyone from D.H. Lawrence and Henry Miller to Heidegger, the narrator has liaisons one after another, drives three cars on different occasions (a Ford LTD, a Tram-Am, and a Bronco, if you care), tries drugs on for size (peyote), and occasionally contacts ex-wife Susan. In other words, Hoffman is an operator, though a singularly unsuccessful one. The protagonist-as-sociopath riff has been played with more pizazz by any number of other writers.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1990
Publisher: Watermark (149 N. Broadway, Wichita, KS 67202)