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In spite of the curious sonic boom produced by a mass media derived style which glances off rather than penetrates, this novel does stake out some new territory in mid-Sixties, mid-familial screw-ups. Kalb, a middle-aged magazine writer, totes an incubus of several years since he has lost or been deserted by his daughter, Jenny. Intermittent and relentless introspection reveal that Jenny's birth resulted in the death of the marriage of Martha and Kalb, and that Kalb, driven away by termagant Martha, has not seen Jenny since her pre-adolescence. The Ripening Girl obsesses Kalb, and while in Cleveland he loves and lives with Susan, a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl. Then returning to New York to work on a news magazine, Kalb tunes into the raunchy whines of a fellow-father, Knowles, his crotch-ety boss; and then there's Barney, a comrade in divorce with an errant daughter. In fact anguished fathers materialize all over and Kalb recoils particularly from the specter of the President's daughter dilemma. Finally Kalb, hung up on his own generative aridity, achieves a spiritual fatherhood through the person of a teen-age runaway, a ""daughter worthy of a king"" who is Susan-Jenny-all the daughters. . . A father-daughter Freud-in which sometimes dangerously tilts toward self-satire; however its facility in conjunction with the author's reputation will attract interest.

Pub Date: July 29th, 1968
Publisher: Scribners