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 A coming-of-age story that features a hero as ambivalent as the book's title--and the reader's response is likely to be just about equally so-so. Twenty-six-year-old Aaron Bright, a talented, struggling writer, should be getting married at this point in his life, but he can't quite bring himself to tie the knot--even though the woman in question is talented, beautiful, and fabulously wealthy besides. Aaron loves her, too, so the source of the problem must lie elsewhere--and consequently Lazar spends several hundred pages recapitulating his hero's miserable childhood in an effort to find out what it is. Trauma number one occurred when eight-year-old Aaron watched his father--the whimsical host of a children's TV show in Denver--take a fatal parachute jump. Left to grow up fatherless in the home of his widowed mother, a harried, eccentric violinist, Aaron becomes the quintessential outsider at the elite private school his grandparents insist he attend. Stigmatized by thriftshop clothes and his own nerdy conversation, Aaron suffers years of isolation and self-loathing before he learns to play court jester to a few popular rich boys, thus snagging himself a position on the edge of the ``in'' crowd. From this vantage point, he's able to covet his new friends' girlfriends, share a little in their wealth, and even win a spot at an Ivy League college while most of his friends succumb to drugs and other vices. In college, he becomes a solitary-poet type, and soon enough reels in Clarisse, a beautiful heiress whose dream is to paint portraits of modern ``saints'' and to live with him in happy domesticity. Can Aaron accept his good fortune and marry the girl? Despite the undertow of all those unhappy childhood memories, there's little doubt that a young man with his ambition will see the dilemma through. A connect-the-dots first novel with a studied, self-conscious, sporadically vivid style.

Pub Date: Feb. 2nd, 1998
ISBN: 0-06-039211-8
Page count: 352pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1997


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