PRETENSIONS by Sally Rinard

PRETENSIONS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Yet another to put among the current breed of ""insider"" novels, this time the focus being the fashion industry's hottest publishing phenomenon, IN Magazine, which doesn't report trends, ""it starts them."" At the helm is editor-in-chief Miles Chandler, a fortyish (reformed) homosexual remarkable for his favoring risky innovative journalism over advertising revenue. And then there are the loyal writers under Chandler's crusty, paternal care: Foxy, the perky, sexy ""star"" interviewer whose independence crumbles when she falls in love with a renowned press-shy actor whose career comes first; Iris, the ruthless society columnist whose tough veneer belies her compassionate nature; and Clarissa, a shy, anorexic debutante whose unusual writing talent takes her quickly up IN's editorial ladder while her naivet‚ leads her into cocaine addiction. Hovering on the sidelines is David DeWitt, New York's hottest designer, a manipulative, druggy homosexual whose past affair with Chandler forged an unwritten obligation: IN Magazine gets all scoops on his couture empire in return for a lot of free publicity. DeWitt's insistence that rookie writer Clarissa cover his new cosmetic line antagonizes IN's beauty editor. When the magazine is sold to a media conglomerate, this hostile editor competes for Chandler's job by spreading news of the homosexual connection. And in revenge, the malicious designer arranges for her so-called accidental death. Though thankful the job is now securely his, Chandler grimly realizes the cost. All in all, a forced and predictable modern morality tale. The quality moments (Chandler's gentle pessimism; the actor's quirky charm) and bits of interesting dialogue are lost in a routine journey through ""bad trips,"" expensive habits, rich dilettantes and rampant self-promotion all warning of the dangers of life in the fast lane. This fashion industry expos‚ misses with its clich‚d themes, hollow relationships, and gratuitously ""hip"" industry hype.

Pub Date: June 25th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's