BUY BACK THE DAWN by Nicholas Garland

BUY BACK THE DAWN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Jet-set love and lust, ill-paced and unfocused--but with a few intriguing bits and pieces lurking behind the poor writing and tortured melodramatics. N.Y. lawyer Jeff Winter is 42, divorced, and on the verge of marrying divorced Cathy Hayes (TV's new Barbara Walters); but then he gets a visit from 19-year-old model Toni Menard, who turns out to be the daughter of Jeff's never-forgotten Great Love of 16 years back: Johanna, wife of Paris porno-nightclub entrepreneur Conrad. Toni tells Jeff that Johanna is long-dead, killed in an accident soon after Jeff left Paris. So Jeff, sure that Johanna was in fact murdered by jealous Conrad, heads for Paree (with decadent, hotly enticing Toni) to ""purge his guilt"" by killing Conrad. Flashbacks ensue: young Jeff living with Conrad and painter Johanna; the married couple's stormy relationship (Conrad hated Johanna for aborting a baby); the steamily perking passion of Jeff and Johanna (""Just the two of them in their wholeness receiving each other. . . Oh, God, it was beautiful""); Conrad's murderous reaction to the affair. But, back in the present, Jeff finds that Conrad is now a prematurely aged, near-blind wreck, so he heads home. And then another set of flashbacks tell the secret of Conrad's decline: he was incestuously seduced by evil Toni (she faked a terminal illness), then tried to blind himself with lye (""a path toward expiation"") while Toni felt ""a need for expiation"" too--which is why she's trying to get Jeff to kill Conrad. Got that? Well, also add in that Johanna isn't really dead; she's now crazy evangelist Sister Love, and she'll see that crazy Toni gets punished . . . . Garland's plotting is gnarled and bunched-up, with flashbacks-within-flashbacks that stomp away any possible momentum. And his prose is often excruciating (the sex scenes are a dire blend of pseudo-poetic and raw). But some of the dialogue and disjointed episodes here--Toni's Machiavellian incest-plot, a Paris subplot about a lovesick accountant--have a cynical sharpness that might be worth developing if Garland can fix up his storytelling technique. As of now, however: an unkempt soap-and-sex also-ran.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1980
Publisher: Marek--dist. by Putnam