CABOT WRIGHT BEGINS by James Purdy

CABOT WRIGHT BEGINS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Cabot Wright, of Yale and Wall Street, a clean-cut upper-class Coca-Cola ad, has raped 300 women, with complete democratic disregard for their beauty or age, and with no real interest (life is boring, friends). He also giggles. Around such troubling phenomena, Purdy has erected a free-floating critique of Life Today -- i.e. Mad Avenue, Publishing (or Pornographer's Row), Affluence, Mental Health, the Sex Blur- and also a parody of the critique. Thus his neo-comic novel- a proliferating genre whose practitioners include Donleavy, Gover, Blechman and Terry Southern- has all the appendages of a bughouse carnival: multi-focus mirrors, meta-sociological custard pies misslled at the serious-headed; plus pseudo-plotting like soap opera. We meet Cabot after his release from prison. Searching for Identity, he keeps checking the chapters (so does the reader) of a novel being written about him by some culture bums or hot-shots whose own lives symbolize various American Attitudes. The hero's flashbacked seduction scenes- especially the one with his boss' batty Billie Burke wife- his work days, his marriage (his wife has her breakdown in a supermarket), and his journeys across the Brooklyn Bridge, are all done in high-fashion simpliste, what might be called the Cultivated Moronic. The dialogue- which mixes Purdy's old spooky naturalism with his new bizarre buoyancy- is a sassy triumph.

Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Co.