ALL THE RIGHT ANSWERS by Robert Noah

ALL THE RIGHT ANSWERS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A deft, clean, confidently written first novel tracing the quiz-show scandal of the late 1950's, from a TV producer involved at the time. During a strike, newspaperman David Beach takes a temporary job writing for a children's TV show. Before long, though, he's drawn into the orbit of larger-than-life producer Stu Leonard (an outstanding creation: cross Jay Gatsby with Gnosis Popodopolous and you're getting warm). Seduced by money and flattery, David makes the job with Stu permanent, working on the development of the new game show, Face to Face. But he's uncomfortable when he discovers that the ""spontaneous"" patter is scripted; he's upset when he discovers that the contest will be, too. Stu explains it's necessary, however, and, like everyone else involved, David goes along. With David narrating (a self-aware and clever voice, winning from the start; like a De Vries narrator, but subtler), we see the show's success, the compromised contestants (including national hero, Elliot Cross, the Van Doren character), and the unavoidable discovery and scandal. Noah provides sharp dialogue, memorable characters, and does a fine job with David's personal life, as he passes through a series of brief affairs. It's not flawless (some iffy plotting; a major character introduced near the end), but, still, this works well on at least three levels: as an appreciative but unsentimental memoir of the days of live TV, a dark, mature My Favorite Year; as a morally resonant documentary of a telling American cultural phenomenon; and as an entertainment, a funny, vivid, and intelligent novel.

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1988
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich