THE LOVE OF RICH WOMEN by William Hamilton


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The sensibility that makes a good cartoonist rarely makes a good novelist (though it may, as with Feiffer, make a fascinating playwright); so it's not too surprising that this first novel by cartoonist Hamilton is skimpily conceived. What is surprising, however, is that it's also oddly distasteful. The basic plot is an old one that's been used better by Wodehouse, Philip Barry, and many others: a poor boy from the sticks falls for a chic rich girl--and must contend with her family. College senior Dan Novitski from Idaho is the poor boy; his love (now pregnant) is Colorado classmate Rowena McDonald; and the tepid shenanigans get under way when Ro brings husband-to-be Dan home to Connecticut to meet father (the new ambassador to France), mother (even more gorgeous than Ro), and a monied, blue-blooded assortment of Hamilton-cartoon types. Dan, of course, is nonplussed--to the point of passing out drunk--by the McDonalds' lavish lifestyle. (Hamilton makes him a boring cardboard boob, saying ""far out,"" ""Hells bells,"" and ""bungalow"" instead of ""gigolo."") And meanwhile papa McDonald is trying to persuade the equally two-dimensional Rowena to have an abortion, frolic in France, and give up her dream of wedded bliss in a Soho loft. (""She and Dan would do things like really put little Barbie Doll shades on fishes. . ."") So it isn't long before cocaine-snorting Ro and hung-over Dan are squabbling. . . while Hamilton throws in two limp subplots: McDonald's loyal, possessive secretary falls for the chauffeur (""Her first fuck in years slammed on and on in an endless time she'd never known""), who turns out to be, in pseudo-Wodehouse style, Dan's long-lost father; and McDonald finds out that his latest mistress is cheating on him. Finally, then, Rowena gets the abortion, and Dan--after getting it on with Ro's mother Jane (""When Dan came, he could only think he had just fucked the sun"")--drives off to Boise, having rediscovered his roots. Cartoon people, smirky sex, dollops of archness and sentimentality--an unappetizing, near-laughless hybrid which succeeds neither as comedy of manners nor social satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1981
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin