THE MENTOR by Sebastian Stuart

THE MENTOR

KIRKUS REVIEW

Stuart’s high-rent, low-plausibility debut thriller pits three New York sharpies against one another to see who can be most ruthless. In a never-never-land where great novelists are handsome and buff and married to brainy heads of $30 million businesses and their classic works of fiction nestle for months at a time on bestseller lists unless they’re sabotaged by aberrant backbiting or upstart novels-of-the-moment, there lives a writer named Charles Davis. Charles’s first novel, a raw, searing tale of his pre-Dartmouth stint in Vietnam, made him the pre-millennial Hemingway years ago, but his latest, Capitol Offenses, has been raked over the coals: no New York Times rave, no fat paperback sales, no household support to match that of his beautiful, adoring wife. That wife, Anne Turner, preoccupied by a crisis in her furnishing empire’s explosive growth and by her dark secrets (could the father of her unborn child really be the lecherous old financial backer who insisted on new collateral for his investment?), still wants to help him out of his funk. So she hires as his new Girl Friday an awkward lump of a girl named Emma Bowles, who’d recently temped as a frighteningly efficient assistant to Anne. In no time at all, Charles is drawing new inspiration from horizontal Emma, who’s determined to milk her connection with the great man to rise above her own horrific past and claw her way to the big time. But although Anne’s halfhearted adultery and game good humor make her no match for Emma’s maleficent ambition, Charles seems fully Emma’s equal as a user, and there’s much low fun to be had as you watch these two vampires race to suck the life out of each other. It’s not, however, the sort of experience that would raise Stuart an inch above the upstarts who nibble at Charles’s feet. As Charles’s own beloved mentor, a saintly writing teacher retired from Dartmouth, tells him: Too commercial. (Book-of-the-Month Club alternate)

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 1999
ISBN: 0-553-11165-5
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1999




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