EASE by Patrick Gale


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What do you do if you're a middle-aged, menopausal playwright who fears your work is getting ""wordy and predictable?"" Why, you go out and find new material of course, and that's just what Domina Tey decides to do at the outset of this short and inconsequential first novel by a young Englishman. An Oxbridge grad and successful middle-brow dramatist, Domina sets off on what she considers the ""adventure of a lifetime,"" a visit to herself. This involves taking up residence in a slummy London bedsitter, away from her comfortable life with Randy Herskewitz, a brilliant literary critic who's been her ""significant other"" for almost 20 years. It also means getting away from her circle of bitchy friends, especially the openly envious Virginia Bingham, a ""poisonous old soak"" and Domina's director ever since convent school. When Domina invents her new self, only Des Turner, her agent who looks like a potato, knows where she is. Domina's unself-conscious slumming finds her in, to use her words, ""a houseful of faggots, morticians, tarts, and Trappist monks."" As she writes to her mooning beau, ""I don't know about finding myself, but I'm certainly collecting tomes of material."" Little of it, unfortunately, makes its way into this terribly contrived book. Rather, we get a few thumbnail sketches: Avril Gilchrist, a matronly writer, doing research for a book on boy prostitutes; Penny, a peroxide blonde and aspiring actress who performs on her back for money; Thierry Kalbach, a young French waiter who brings home a new boy every night; and Quintus Harding, a serious university student whose plan to enter the priesthood is shattered by Domina's seduction. That's her revenge for Randy's infidelity, though it has an unanticipated tragic effect for her young lover. With prose as laughable as its premise (""She wished her nipple could whistle to attract attention""), this silly novel's only virtue is its brevity.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1986
Publisher: Dutton