THE NATURE OF THE BEAST by Len Giovannitti


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New York TV documentary-maker Dante Ebreo's ""favorite subject--me--the nature of the beast"" is unlikely to become anybody else's even third-favorite subject, although occasional arresting moments slither through the soap, tears, and sweat as Dante non-chronologically laces together his ""largely unhappy life"" as sinned-against son, sinning husband-father, semi-failed writer, and Don Juan manquÉ. At 55, unemployed and sparring with his latest ""little girl"" (his pal's daughter), he recalls it all, and it all is less than fresh--the alcoholic, whoring Italian labor leader father whom Dante and his bitter Jewish mother walked out on; the WW II prison camp that left him dazed and rattled for years; the smart, sexy, independent wife he disappointed again and again. And the women on the side: worldly, married Moira, Linda with the vibrator, Rachel, Vicky, and ""H."" Unfortunately, for every tart, edgy, or affecting perspective, there's a clutch of platitudes or a two-reeler soap-opera scene or a stretch of self-pity masquerading as self-analysis. ""Gone with the wind is never gone with the wind when human emotions and memory are intertwined."" ""Is there any good way to accept the death of a loved one?"" ""Just be in my corner, baby."" Estranged wife Leah tells Dante: ""You think being miserable is synonymous with being serious."" Well, unpleasant Giovannitti-Ebreo's painfully, embarrassingly autobiographical truth-game is certainly miserable, and it's surely serious. It's just not well-written or singular enough to mean much outside the immediate family.

Pub Date: June 20th, 1977
Publisher: Random House