NATIONAL ANTHEM by Richard Kluger


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Christopher Kwait, middleclass Manhattan man of our time gone slightly mad, is the sort of character Jack Lemmon plays so well. At a college reunion, Kwait reviews the monogamous monotony of his marital fidelity, his place on the slow executive escalator at his computer company, his tidy but piddling finances. Kwait finds Kwait a bore and does a drop out/spin out. First things first is his plan and he decides to pursue some of the easy adulteries he's always hearing are now the mode in marriage among the upward mobile; his first target turns out to be willing but passion-puncturingly accustomed to making her pin money in this fashion, while his next effort pretends to such intense convictions of chastity while attempting to cure her flaming dose of gonorrhea that Kwait is persuaded to restraint of romance. Kwait simultaneously turns to crime with more success, making off with a millionaire's art and jewelry, manhandling expensive baubles away from two exhibitionistic fairy princes. And it's all very, very funny up to this point. But no joke should go on for too long. Unfortunately Kluger has Kwait go on to invest his entertainingly ill-gotten gains in an old buddy's private army recruited to annex Canada, among other goals. But for 75% of the book Kwait swings with some of the most comic of caricaturistic citizens spouting demonically funny dialogue. The kinky fun for the best part of Kwait's run make it a likely trip for readers.

Pub Date: April 23rd, 1969
Publisher: Harper & Row