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A young N.Y. actor bemoans the suicide of a former girlfriend--in a thin, maudlin first novel that's hardly helped by lots of laughing-to-hide-the-tears shtick. Sandy Bayard, 29-ish, is naturally upset when he hears that Mary Rawlings, his one-time bedmate/soulmate, has overdosed during a visit home to Boston. He gets drunk with Mary's boyfriend Ansil, smokes ""the biggest joint any white man has ever seen,"" and wallows in noisy misery. (""If I had to come out with some of the truth of how I was feeling, it was, fuck you, Ansil. Fuck you for having more of a hold on Maw than I did. . .And I also thought, fuck Mary, if it came to that. And fuck God. . . ,"" etc.) But then Sandy receives a posthumous one-sentence farewell letter from Mary: ""It's nothing you've done, but it feels like it is."" So now he's really tormented--wondering whether he's somehow to blame for the suicide, indulging in soggy reminiscences of their affair, even going up to Boston to offer condolences to Mary's family. (A brief, quirky confrontation with Mary's tough, disoriented father is the book's only interesting scene.) And finally, after a failed attempt to party the blues away with a gorgeous new acquaintance (thoughts of Mary cause impotence), Sandy realizes that he's not guilty. . .and goes off into the sunset with Mary's cat. The few funny tidbits here--e.g., Sandy's one-day job on a TV sitcom--are irrelevant digressions. Elsewhere, the hip-Manhattan humor--smart-alecky narration, trendy dialogue--is strained, derivative, in-jokey. And the overall effect, especially since amateurish lapses abound (flawed continuity, fumbled details), is an off-putting mixture of sentimentality and smirky narcissism.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1988
Publisher: Dutton