THIRD PARTIES by Laura Cunningham
Kirkus Star


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Cunningham, a zip-gun satirist whose wicked ways with sex, love and such pursuits were displayed to middling effect in Sweet Nothings (1977), this time skewers a fruity morsel of exurbia outside of N.Y.C. Darton's Wood is a private ""estate community"" laid out by robber barons a century ago amid the wild and lovely forest around Lake Pee Pah. But today these massive mansions with astronomical upkeep costs are inhabited by tag ends of once-monied aristocracy and grandeur-happy New People, all of whom are frenetically coping with falling plaster and leaking stone. And it's the Village People on the fringe, descendants of Maltese stone-laborers imported by the founders, who now ""control all life-support systems in the Wood."" So things are frenzied hereabouts, with frequent marital explosions that keep the real-estate agents busy. Like Dee Dee Williams, who currently is peddling (in her Dalton Woods ""nasalto"") the beloved home of songwriter Katcher, who's about to divorce indifferent wife Beth and concentrate on his affair with Nadine, wife of Big Al Bluttal of the Chateau Bluttal--she's an intense sort who first attracted Katcher's attention by threatening suicide while kneeling before a wheel of party Brie. The house is indeed sold; and Katcher is granted a lease on a woodsy cabin, where he begins an exhilarating love affair with nature. But a corporate excrescence named Urbanco is about to bulldoze the town council and the Woods for 5400 Tudor-style units and a giant mall--so Katcher swings into sabotage, successfully calling forth the Woods' dissidents. And since Nadine has lost, with no discernible grief, Big Al (he plunged off a cliff in his snowmobile) she is Katcher's. . . while other couples merge and split, all attended with keen-eyed vulturism by real-estater Dee Dee. No more real substance than Sweet Nothings--but more firmly controlled, and delightfully mean and funny indeed.

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 1980
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan