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Thornley's second novel is a pretentious 60's-era tome about a charismatic actor high on his own angst. Billy Maffett is a struggling American actor, who at 35 is a bit older than many of the young anti-war activists he knows, but that doesn't matter--he's hip, and soul-weary, and he wears his ambition and talent on his sleeve. One day on a sunny vacation, he meets two bored and oversophisticated British teen-agers, Martin and his sister, Annie, and charms them both out of their socks--although Martin is the one who falls head over heels for him; eventually Martin joins Billy in America and they become lovers, but they soon drift apart. Billy gets a few breaks and ends up in Long Day's Journey into Night in New York City; Martin wanders back and forth between England and America, sometimes seeing Billy, sometimes not, mainly partaking in a lot of hazily unfocused scenes dealing with random violence, free if somewhat shadowy sex, and drugs--heavy-handed atmospherics Thornley serves up in the place of plot. The novel ends after an aging schoolteacher wearing a leather bra gets Martin stoned and seduces him--an experience so horrible that it sends him fleeing back to England (""Oh Billy,"" he cries, ""you scare me, American scares me and I scare myself""). As for Billy--well, unable to make anything work out (including a relationship with the lovely Diane, who runs a tranquil retreat called The Farm), he takes too many pills. . .All in all, much dull ado about next to nothing; Thornley seems to be trying to examine an era by re-creating its excesses in his own prose--obscurity, self-indulgence, and shallowness.

Pub Date: July 15th, 1986
Publisher: Beaufort