Ever wonder what goes on behind the closed doors of those exclusive gentleman’s clubs populated by the Park Avenue elite? MacVeagh’s comedy of manners reveals all as a candidate sets his sights on gaining acceptance to one such establishment.
Members of The Avenue are privileged blue bloods who think nothing of shedding their clothes and performing their activities in the nude. After all, they have nothing to hide from one another. And even though members may not always get along—or even like each other—they conduct themselves with civility. Club president Wallace “Puff” Penfield and admissions committee member Dick Burkus, Long Island neighbors, courteously discuss club matters in its hallowed halls, but their ongoing feud is legendary. Puff once opposed Dick’s building project, and Dick retaliated by erecting a spite pole on his property, blocking Puff’s scenic view. They also appear to have differing opinions of Max Guberstein, a crude Hollywood producer who’s applied for membership: Puff seems to approve, and though he’s not on the committee, his nephew Dante has recently been appointed; Dick has yet to make up his mind and insists on reserving judgment until he dines with Max. It takes only one admissions committee member to blackball a candidate, and Max enlists his underling, Cecil, to do a little spying for him. Meanwhile, a scandalous roman à clef, Paisley Mischief, is making the rounds, and members and their wives are atwitter with speculation about the book’s characters and the identity of its anonymous author. As Dick’s journalist girlfriend plans an article exposing the book’s author, the decisive meeting is held, and Dante’s roommate orchestrates an ingenuous plan. The action intensifies as mild chaos rules, then collapses into a foreseeable resolution.
MacVeagh’s satirical style is adequately smooth and somewhat amusing. Readers fascinated with the lifestyles of the very rich may enjoy a chuckle or two.