COMING FIRST by Paul Bryers
Kirkus Star


Email this review


Published previously in England, a comic treasure about the battle between the sexes, with a Lucky Jim-esque antihero who brings rollicking, literate comedy to the sexual confusions of the post-women's-lib 80's. Preston Moody, struggling unsuccessfully in the fiercely competitive hierarchy at the BBC (""Preston had been on Animal Antics longer than any other producer"") has problems galore. Wife Polly has relegated him to the downstairs sofa--ever since he admitted his ongoing dalliance with BBC co-worker Carla (anchor woman of the stridently feminist interview-show Shrews at Ten), who in her own maddening way won't exactly sleep with Preston, either (since penetration is against her political principles). Preston's third woman (aside from his various left-over-from-childhood fantasies) is quiet and kind Miranda, whose well-advanced pregnacy is thought generally (and erroneously) to have been caused by Preston, who dutifully attends Miranda at her classes in natural childbirth (where, among other things, he practices in ""the Singing Exercise""). Helplessly involved with three women, then, but having sexual intercourse with none of them, all the hapless Preston needs to give some real uplift and focus to the wobbling masculinity in his life is a sudden case of penis warts--and a crashing demotion to ""the God slot"" at the BBC after he allows Carla to air the word ""cunt"" in a segment on vaginal thrush on Shrews at Ten. Is all lost for the sexually befuddled and guilt-ridden Preston, product of a repressed childhood in working-class Liverpool (he was raised by three very odd women) and unwitting victim of a stiletto-sharp feminism fueled by one Eva Eichler and her influential work, Men--the Second Sex? There will be a rock-concert riot (during another of Preston's ill-fated BBC tapings), a humbling disclosure, a courageous detective-hunt (by Preston), and a seeming case of someone rising from the dead (you can't imagine who), before Preston will at last lose his warts and find his niche (maybe) in this fearsome and fractious world. Hilarious, timely, serious fun for everybody ever born of woman. A find.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1988
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly--dist. by Little, Brown