THE EIGHTH-BEST-DRESSED MAN IN THE WORLD by Keith Botsford

THE EIGHTH-BEST-DRESSED MAN IN THE WORLD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Back and forth, from the 1930's and to the past, weaves the run-down on Count Cosmo Annibale Cassalo whose aristocratic claims know no shame, little love and less understanding. Traced by Gordon Carey, Cosmo's superior passage through the world takes in several marriages, a lengthy affair, (placid) a shorter liaison (tempestuous) and many gestures in earning a living. An Italian nobleman's younger son, Cosmo hit on emigrating to America to make his own way, found his cachet in the suits made by Benziger, became the model for an Army poster in World War I and, after some postwar drifting, became the leading man -- on stage and in bed, for Ida Kent who, in marrying him, paved his way for a Hollywood career. This brought him to Rosemary, devoted and depressing, kicked him downstairs and to marriage with Alda who lost the child that wasn't his, and to Eugenia, young and demanding. Throughout Gordon researches, in interviews, through connections with Cosmo, through love of Alba, into the image of an image and follows the diminishing shadow to its last humiliation, its last flicker of reality. Fitzgeraldian in its evoking of an era, a world whose glitter was meretricious, and of a figure whose elegance was as great as his humanity was small. Of interest if sometimes uneven.

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace