DEADLINE by Tom Stacey


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Stacey returns to the Middle Eastern milieu of The Worm in the Rose (1985--not reviewed)--for a Graham Greene-ish parable of tire last two days in the life of an aging journalist tossed into the middle of his final exclusive. Granville Jones, once the doyen of British newspapermen, is living out his life in quietly impoverished semiretirement on the Persian Gulf island of Hawar. Through a series of flashbacks we see how, after chronically neglecting his wife and children for his job, he came to the island on assignment many years ago; struck up a cordial friendship with the reigning Emir and an unlikely romance with young Romy Burton: abandoned his old life for Romy; was deprived of his new when she was killed in a diving accident; and resigned himself to staying on in his last post, filing occasional meaningless squibs. Gran's last chance for immortality comes when a proclamation announces that the Emir has appointed his imprisoned son Hatim as President-Regent--and Gran, who was perhaps the last person on the island to hear of the transfer of power, goes to visit the bedridden Emir socially, finds himself designated the authorized bearer of Hatim's version of events, and realizes that a note the Emir passed him repudiates that version. A series of increasingly trivial obstacles stands between Gran and the possibility of filing his all-important story, but the tone is elegiacally comic rather than suspenseful. Not as complex as Greene or as powerful as Under the Volcano, but a graceful and gently ironic evocation of its hero and his unlikely (and all-too-familiar) world.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1989
Publisher: St. Martin's