RUMMIES by Peter Benchley


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Lightweight, sprightly story of a New York book editor dragooned into drying out at a celebrated drug and alcohol rehab in New Mexico; by the author of Jaws, The Deep, etc. This may be Benchley's best-written, tightest novel, with few banalities of style. But the plot lacks punch and forces him midway to squeeze some National Enquirer melodrama into what starts as a Movie-of-the-Week survivor story. Yale-educated Scott Preston suffers from mental gaps at Mason and Storrow, calls his authors in blackouts, fails to put in for their advances, and at home makes passes at his teen-age daughter's friends. His wife and boss gather for an ""intervention,"" tell him his marriage and job are zip unless he agrees to go to The Banner Clinic in the New Mexico desert. The clinic is run by noble star recoverer Stone Banner (read John Wayne), whose talks with patients are quite a bit of fun until Natasha G. (a dash of Rita Hayworth here) earns her gold medallion and is later found dead at the foot of Stone Banner's private clifftop villa. Stone turns out to be still on coke and booze, and tries to bed Scott's precious heartthrob--poor little rich girl Priscilla Godfrey, whom Stone drugs and rapes. The novel's first half, about recovery activities designed to smash drug habits, veers into Scott's leading a crew of half-screw-loose patients into exposing Banner while he's being awarded the President's Medal. This climax subverts Scott's awakening, the obligatory true climax that Benchley does not draw at depth. Benchley entertains, moves swiftly, writes energetic druggy dialogue--at the cost of creating a memorable story.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 1989
Publisher: Random House