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THE CHEAT by Pat Jordan



Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1984
Publisher: Villard/Random House

Bobby Giaquinto, 40, a sports journalist, is supposedly a beacon of writerly integrity while at the same time being a helpless philanderer. His wife is frigid; and long lists of sexual conquests fill the opening pages of this clumsy first novel by sportswriter Jordan (A False Spring, etc.). Unfortunately, however, Bobby is more Don Whine than Don Juan, forever justifying himself to beloved sexpot-divorcee Sheila Doyle: ""Babe, I'm the most amiable guy I know. Why should I be angry? Just because I spend my nights sleeping on a sofa in the living room and my days writing shit just to pay the grocery bills? Because sometimes I'm sitting in my office and it's like a fucking cell and pretty soon I'm staring out the window at all that quiff walking by and I start to get an itch, you know?"" Sheila accompanies the loathsome Bobby on his travels to research a magazine story on a dead alcoholic baseball pitcher, once a promising rookie who (Bobby discovers) was done dirty by his supposed best buddy, now a squeaky-clean, super-Christian Cy Young Award winner. Meanwhile, the shuttling across the country to get the story allows Jordan to indulge in numbing chunks of his own journalistic observations: of Reno wedding chapels and casinos, legalized bordellos, sharky lawyers, trailer camps--various species of tastelessness to which tasteless Bobby feels superior. And when the magazine changes the story, a noisy, unconvincing libel suit ensues. (""'Fucking little Jew!"" Bobby said. 'I knew he'd fuck with it if I wasn't around to watch him.'"") It would be nice to think that Jordan conceived of vulgar, macho Bobby as an anti-hero, but every evidence in this self-pitying and waywardly pious book says otherwise. A thin, crude fiction debut.