BAD MANNERS by Maggie Paley


Email this review


This slim first novel by magazine-writer Paley takes place in a jittery and self-absorbed version of upscale Manhattan, and presents thumbnail portraits of four Cosmo Girl types predictably preoccupied with money, making it, and men. Taking the form of a series of lengthy telephone conversations, it features Violet, a publicist obsessed with pervasive emotional conflicts of her own creation between herself and her scientist lover; Helena, an interior designer temporarily on hold career-wise while she and her husband, a publisher, try to get pregnant; Kitty, a lusty and driven entrepreneur in the gourmet-food business who makes time in her busy schedule for sex but not commitments; and Alexandra, a radio personality who spends most of the book fretting over her food fixations and finally brings herself to accept the Italian millionaire who woos her throughout the novel. Supporting players include Roger Sweet, the proprietor of the Sweet School of Human Possibility; Roger Rathbone, a big-time movie star who's the object of all of repressed and overly controlled Helena's fantasies; and Judith Thaxter, a Gossip Magazine reporter working on a piece about uncommitted Kitty, whose voracious careerism feeds on this public attention like a lion on raw meat. At the close, the four friends are variously rewarded with pregnancies, husbands, and professional enhancements, seeming to indicate that in the world the author brings us news of, the wages of narcissism and vacuity aren't half bad. Brittle and rather bloodless, this little volume does have its moments of complacently bitchy wit, and the author has a good eye and ear for veiled but animated female cattiness. Still, there isn't much else to this book besides its casual contempt for any real seriousness in the lives of women, the whole bodied forth in a fashion generally devoid of energy and consequence.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Crown