PRIVATE LIES by M. K. Cooper


Email this review


I must learn. . . to face the things I find distasteful. To acknowledge them, and talk about them, instead of covering up for them as I always have. My entire life has been a euphemism. . . ."" So writes still-gorgeous Kyle Holden, grand old Broadway composer and the precious narrator of this indeed distasteful (though slightly cartoon-y and terribly proper) tale of murder, psychosis, and sexual games-playing among a Noel-Cowardy clutch of show-biz folk. What, you ask, are classy Kyle's private lies? Well, for starters, he's a homosexual (he and songwriting collaborator Joel have been close off and on for years), but he's publicly, happily married to fluttery, beautifully preserved musical-comedy star Veda--who blithely knows Kyle's secret back from the days when she and Kyle and Joel were a chic threesome. But Kyle's current Big Secret is the one that he and Veda have been keeping: they know that their obnoxious daughter was murdered by her husband, but they've kept mum for their own sakes (the scandal!) and for the sake of their motherless granddaughter, a Bad Seed (she's into S-M with the chauffeur, among much else) who might get even worse if she knows her Daddy killed her Mommy. When the lethal son-in-law remarries, Kyle and Veda are distraught--unable to warn the unsuspecting bride (whom they soon hate anyway). And the whole house of cards collapses when the black-playwright friend of the murdered daughter Tells All-including the homosexual stuff and Veda's secret hemorrhoids--in an obvious roman-…-clef play headed for Broadway. When playing for laughs (as in a dandy sequence involving five varied clergymen's reactions to Kyle and Veda's ethical bind), Cooper can pass muster in a vein of Patrick-Dennis-y, decadent frivolity. More often in this uneven novel, however, she--and her wearyingly cutesy narrator--seem to be playing this paper-thin, sordid story straight, with undue weight given to the obvious theme: Living a Lie is Bad. So, despite the arch delivery and a few comic flights, this remains just another chi-chi soap-operatic melodrama, more sophisticated than most but no more plausible or affecting.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1979
Publisher: Simon & Schuster