ST. FAMOUS by Jonathan Dee


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 A well-timed and masterful sendup of celebrity, racism, and the justice system in America, by the esteemed author of The Liberty Campaign (1993), etc. Paul Soloway is a man behind his time: Passionate about literature, unfamiliar with the modern art of compromise, the Columbia graduate settles down on Manhattan's Upper West Side to commit his life to great books. Aiding and abetting is his hard- working wife, Renata, who maintains a full-time job and gives birth to two boys while Paul labors on his first novel--doing so for a decade as the Soloways grow ever poorer and more depressed. But all changes the day a local court case inspires a race riot, and Paul, through a misunderstanding, is beaten and kidnapped by a group of young black men. It's only a day or so before the police rescue Paul, but to his surprise he emerges from the hospital a hero, with Hollywood and the New York publishing world banging on his door. Though he's repelled by the idea of a best-selling true-crime account while his ``real'' work languishes in a drawer, Paul's impoverished family persuade him to make a profitable publishing deal. Little does he know that his surviving kidnapper, Victor Hartley, is also entertaining visits from TV-movie moguls--and from a celebrity lawyer intent on making him the hero of the story. Grasping at his new celebrity as a way out of prison, and at the TV-movie deals as a way out of the ghetto, Victor is desperate to make his voice heard over Paul's. Out on probation, he commits a desperate act that seals his fate--while Paul, the quintessential oblivious white guy, innocently reaps the rewards. A hasty conclusion outlining the amicable dissolution of Paul's marriage and Victor's unfair sentencing proves disappointing after a setup this fascinating. Still, the author has much to say about life and art. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-385-47459-8
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1995


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