CALIFORNIA DREAMERS by Norman Bogner

CALIFORNIA DREAMERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Bogner (Seventh Avenue, Arena) seems to be escalating his fiction's sleaze factor in pursuit of bestsellerdom. But, with hardly any likable or believable characters here (only Bogner's N.Y.-Jewish people have ever rung true), this meander through Beverly Hills business-dope-and-sex never juices up much genuine popular appeal. The opening chapters are best--as Claire Stuart, top clothes buyer for a suburban Connecticut department store (with ""an unselfconscious but taunting voluptuousness""), anticipates her wedding to architect Bobby Canaday; the ragbiz scenes here have some of that Seventh Avenue snap, as do Claire's run-ins with her caterer and her crude, Las-Vegas-cashier mother. But then Bobby goes off to seek a job in L.A., and while there he falls for Hillary Martinson, spoiled-rich daughter of the top-of-the-heap (secretly bankrupt) architect who is Bobby's new boss. Bobby dumps Claire to marry Hillary; so Claire--after a suicide attempt and a peptalk from Mom (""You're still a pussy. . . . Shit, shit, shit. . . . Go out there and fight for him"")--heads for L.A. too. And from there on the novel goes downhill into halfhearted plot developments studded with brand names, cocaine snorts, and bad porn-writing of the ""his steaming hot sticky dick"" variety. Claire keeps company with glamorous restaurateur Ed, sells clothes on Rodeo Drive, and opens her own store, Rodeo Wilderness--with help from the ruthless tycoon who also happens to be manipulating Bobby's architect firm. Madeleine, Claire's promiscuous roommate, goes the by-the-numbers starlet route: climbing into producers' beds, doing porn, finding half-success (TV commercials) and disillusionment. Hillary and Bobby have a rotten married time--so she hooks up with a psychotically possessive drug-dealer who gets her pregnant (abortion, suicide). . . while he tries to get Claire back. But Claire won't give up her career, and idealistic Bobby is off to design a chapel in England. Thin story, flat and vulgar writing (though occasionally energetic)--an also-ran in the Scruples crowd, only for those with an infinite appetite for chic, dirty, druggy doings on Rodeo Drive.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1981
Publisher: Wyndham/Simon & Schuster