MADDER MUSIC by Peter De Vries
Kirkus Star


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In the lull between the funniest first and last chapters of the year, De Vries explores the half-amusing, half-tedious tribulations of middle-aging freelancer Bob Swirling, who dog-paddles through the suburban puddles of ""Bohemian bourgeoisie,"" exchanging one wife for another, one house for another, one brother-in-law for another. Troubles begin when ""cunt-crazy"" but reasonably faithful Bob idiotically infers that he's dying and therefore has wife Enid's permission to carpe diem--with, for instance, talkative real-estater Becky (""a great lay, but she needs an editor""). Misunderstanding begets divorce and remarriage, which brings not only Becky but also Becky's loving brother Pomfret (how loving, Bob has yet to find), an unemployed improvisational insult poet whose congestion condition makes home-sweet-home humidified hell. Add the pressures of religioso landlady Mrs. Pesky (soon to be Bob's stepma), angry-black girlfriend Pauline, and Bob's unpopular efforts on behalf of a supposedly Negro new neighbor (the ""black humorist"" turns out to be, well, a ""black humor""-ist) . . . and no wonder Bob cracks. Seeing a ""Grosz creature"" in the mirror, convinced that he's a fraud, phony, and lecher, Bob's psyche triggers the ultimate escape mechanism; while doing his famed Groucho Marx impression at a fashion show benefit, Bob simply becomes insolent, lubricious Groucho, ""doomed to gag after gag forever."" Groucho Swirling's non-stop puns, double entendres, and put-downs--and his psychiatrist's pontifications thereon--make for a hilariously dippy opening (a falsh-forward) and finale, yeasty slices that put the sandwich's filling--De Vrie's usual blend of naughties, cuties, and nasties--to shame.

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 1977
Publisher: Little, Brown