Kirkus Star


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The son of illiterate Russian immigrants, actor/director/autobiographer (the best-selling The Ragman's Son) Douglas joins Elia Kazan among moviefolk-turned-novelists who find their material in immigrant backgrounds. If Douglas has yet to achieve the power of Kazan at his best, he has written a respectably competent piece of storytelling. Like his hero--film director Danny Dennison, who was born Moishe Neumann but changed his name to mask his Jewish background--Douglas was born Issur Danielovitch, which he first changed to Isidore Demsky before assuming his all-American identity as Kirk Douglas. Here, Douglas shares the psychic background as well as the name of his hero, but invents a thoroughly new history. Danny is interned with his parents and sister Rachel at the German San Sabba concentration camp in Trieste, where he witnesses the degradation and murder of the Jews. His father is a sincere artist of metal sculpture. His pregnant sister hangs herself on the same day the camp is liberated by the Americans. Not wanting to be a Jew, Moishe changes his name, is taken by a black US Army sergeant to Syracuse, New York, where he enters a Catholic orphanage, then is adopted by the Dennisons. Mrs. Dennison deflowers him, becomes his lover, turns him onto the movies. Eventually, Danny rises through B-pictures to become by middle age an acclaimed second-level director of commercial hits. However, at heart he wants to do at least one sincere picture--an updating of Everyman--in honor of his father. Meanwhile, Danny has fallen for a young Polish call-gift in London, who has herself emerged from the San Sabba refugee camp in Trieste after fleeing Poland in 1980. And he is trying to rescue his daughter Patricia from the clutches of her all-consuming junkbond-dealer grandfather, one of the world's richest men. Will grandfather take over Ace Pictures and ruin Danny just as he is filming Everyman? And will Danny fulfill his great fantasy of bedding his call-gift and her voluptuous mother at the same time? All highly readable and sexy, though only the Polish call-girl shines with quirky originality.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1990
Publisher: Random House