Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 20, 1976 · Page 163
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Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 163

Charleston, West Virginia
Issue Date:
Sunday, June 20, 1976
Page 163
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Page 163 article text (OCR)

SPEAKING OF BOOKS Shaw at the hack level "NIGHT W O R K , " by I r w i n Shaw, Delacorte Press, $8.95 Someone once said that money and sex provide the two most exciting subjects for a sto'ry. Irwin Shaw has focused his latest novel, Night- work, on these seemingly ^ure-fire es, but he has still managed to rind out a dull, insipid novel. The story is the familiar Cinderella theme. The hero, Douglas Grimes, working as a night clerk in a run-down New York hotel, goes upstairs one night to investigate a disturbance and discovers a naked dead man, and $100,000 concealed in a cardboard tube. Doug keeps the money and runs off to Europe. He suffers a temporary setback, when the suitcase carrying his money is picked up by a stranger, but he tracks this man down and dramatically confronts him. Then the two men go into partnership ar/i launch a series of successful investments, which make them rich and happy. This story outline doesn't sound very promising, and the-reader keeps turning pages, hoping for something exciting to happen, which never does. The friendship of the two men is obviously intended to provide the heart of the story, but neither character has been sufficiently developed to make the relationship either believable or interesting. The theme of the novel is about as profound as a television commercial. Simply stated, it is that if a man should have the good fortune to fall into a pile of money, he will be able to travel to exciting places, dine at fine restaurants, meet interesting people, buy nice paintings, and above all, become a first-rate lover. In fact, the hero, at one point, reflects that the lack of money causes impotence. M o n e y ' s m a g i c w a n d does change Douglas Grimes from a stuttering, insecure, grounded pilot to a non-stuttering, confident, highly successful lover, but unfortunately it cannot transform the reader's r e a c t i o n s to Doug as a character. Throughout the novel, he remains an innocuous, dull, over-grown adolescent. He reads a lot, and he has the irritating habit of awkwardly dumping bits of his Leon Uris in Ireland "TRINITY," Leon Uris, Doubleday Co., Inc., $10.95 · 'This big (751 pages) and sprawling novel by the author of Exodus and QB Vll has as its stage what is now Northern Ireland from the potato famine of the 1840's to the Easter Week Rebellion of 1916. Built on the theme that in Ireland there is no future--only the tempestuous past happening over and over again--the story is a sobering backdrop for today's tragic chronicle of constant death and destruction. The Trinity consists of the Larkin family of Ballyutogue, -representing generations of Catholic hill farmers in Donegal; the Hubbies, prototypes of three centuries of ^rrfitish aristocracy; and the Mac- Leods of Belfast, devout shipyard workers with Scottish-Presbyterian ancestors who settled in Ulster (now Northern Ireland) to provide security for the British Crown's interests. As in any work of this magnitude, there are peaks and valleys in the flow of the narrative. A general understanding of the turbulent and confused history of Ireland is not essential for true enjoyment and appreciation of Uris' effort. In fact, the novel in itself can lead to an improved knowledge of the past. But some background in Irish history is ^certain to add meaning to at least parts of this involved story. What has been called a Romeo and Juliet type of romance centered about Connor Larkin, the key individual in the novel, provides a significant element in the overall narrative. Larkin and Shelly MacLeod, who is slain during one of,the piany related upsurges of violence stand out as strong-willed and independent-thinking individuals from completely different sectors of Irish life. , : ,. - , , . , , , , 24m CHARLESTON. W. M.' Larkins displays, and carries out, an impassioned commitment to home rule as a legacy from his Roman Catholic father and grandfather. He, along with members of the Hubble family and thousands,of others, eventually loses his life on the World War I battlefield of Gallipoli in Turkey--but not until he has waged a bitter fight against rich Protestant landowners who exploit Catholic tenant farmers and factory workers. Miss MacLeod is a Protestant, and the two young people meet when Larkin comes to Belfast to join an underground Catholic resistance group plotting against the Protestant political majority. Larkin finds himself leading a double life, as a friend of Long Don Sweeney of the resistance Brotherhood, to which Larkin smuggles firearms; and as a rugby teammate of Robin MacLeod, Miss MacLeod's brother. Sweeney also is among the Gallipoli casualties. Political figures prominent in this more than half century of Irish history move in and out of Uris' narrative. And while the story ends with the ill-fated Easter Week Rebellion in 1916, the years immediately following brought additional war and conflict to the Irish countryside. In December of 1921, a treaty between Ireland and Great Britain brought some respite in stipulating that Ireland was to rule itself, but would remain in the British Empire. The six counties to the north, centered about the old area of Ulster, decided to remain part of the United Kingdom. Trinity, l i k e U r i s ' p r e v i o u s works, is a most ambitious novel. For readers staying with it, the reward in satisfaction should far outweigh the hours required. --Charles R.. Lewis. reading into the novel. For example, early in the book, when a policeman asks him his name,-he confides to the reader, "What would he have done if I had answered, 'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings?'" Some of the dialogue is so unbelievably bad that the reader has the impression he is looking at an adolescent's awkward first attempts at serious writing. For example, when Doug is in Washington, D.C.,. going to bed with a lady from the Justice Department, she says to him, "I am now seducing you," and he replies, "Consider me seduced." Doug then confides to the reader, "If she was as good at Justice as she was in bed, the government was getting its money's worth." And later he tells the girl, "Sufficient unto the night are the pleasures thereof." This kind of banality keeps sinking the novel, like lead. Considering Night Work's many deficiencies, I was surprised to learn that the novel has been on the best-seller lists. Perhaps the name of Irwin Shaw is so familiar that people will snatch at anything he writes. Or maybe the success of the television series Rich Man, Poor Ulan, based on his earlier novel, has stimulated interest in his latest work. Or perhaps readers get a thrill out of vicariously sharing Doug's good fortunes. Everybody has the desire to fall into unexpected wealth, and readers may enjoy vicariously travelling with Doug to all those exciting European cities, as he wines and dines and makes love and money. He certainly has an impressive itinerary, visiting Zurich, St. Moritz, Gstaad, Geneva, Milan, Venice, Florence, Paris, C h a n t i l l y , N i c e , L u g a n o , a n d Rome. In fact, the book is almost as much a travelogue or guide book to Europe as it is a novel. Any sensitive reader will be disappointed with this book. It is sad to think that the author who could write The Young Lions and The Eighty Yard Run, a classic Story about lost adolescence, could grind out such a shoddy product. Night- ifork is definitely hack work. Trevor Owen Dr. Owen is an associate professor of English at Potomac State College. Paperbacks "ANY MINUTE I CAN SPLIT," by Judith Rossner. $1.95. * * * "THE W O R L D ' S N U M B E R O N E F L A T - O U T , ALL-TIME GREAT, STOCK CAR RACING BOOK," by Jerry Bledsoe, $1.95. * * * "WITHOUT FEATHERS," by Woody Allen, $1.95. * * * "BARBECUE WITH BEARD," by James Beard, $1.95. * * * "THE NATURAL DIET," by Carter Chase $1. * * * "NO-GUESS CALORIE COUNTER," Joan Wexler, $1. * * * "NO-GUESS CARBOHYDRATE GRAM, COUNTER;, Joan, Wader.;/ C1 * -» : -u.^- y ».-·*· *·»·* i --» ··* *·."-. 'if A. f- Deceptive love story "LOST PROFILE," by Francoise Sagon, Delacorte Press, $6.95 "Lost Profile is one of those novels you can read at one sitting but probably shouldn't, for the seeming ease of its plot development and characterization belie the depth of thought and insight beneath. Its story covers about six months -in the life of Josee Ash, a young Frenchwoman, and her relationship with Julius A. Cram, wealthy, encentric, who comes into her life as her crumbling marriage is finally dissolving once and for all. Cram seems benign, almost a savior and possibly the ideal protector to help her escape from her husband into a career and new life in the higher social and artistic circles of Paris. But that is all part of the problem. Cram is just as possessive, though not as blatantly, as Josee's husband, and his wealth gives him the potential power over her that her husband never possessed. Yet Josee is blind to all of this, and she leads an innocent, superficial, empty life on the edge of Cram's and within his social circle, that is, until the man comes along who, for the first time in her life, offers her true freedom and an escape from the kind of moral and emotional vampirism she's known with her husband and unknowingly accepted with Cram. The story is as much an exploration of the themes of dependence and independence, of domination and freedom, of vampirism and happiness, as it is a story of love and sex, though Sagan's themes de- velop only through those and the relationships they depend on. If anything, the reader may ask for more, a fuller development, and some criticism might be made of Sagan's characteristic precision and economy of style and her abrupt first person narration which seems to tell too much, too fast, too easily and seems to leave too little for the reader to discover. Yet this is false. Her style is highly symbolic and suggestive, richly detailed, though not overloaded and overburdening, and certainly not dense and oblique. The story moves -- in terms of unfolding plot and revealing character and in terms of character emotion and reader emotion -- and makes for high readability without mere superficiality. This latest novel from the women who produced such novels as Bonjour Trislesse, A Certain Smile and Aimes-Vous Brahms, among others, was a bestseller in France under the title Un Profit Perdu, and its explorations of the ironic and complex relationships of men and women, as well as of the emptiness of the rich, provides both the expected and some surprises. While probably not bestseller material in the United States, it should nonetheless find a good audience, given its quality and Sagan's fine record of literary accomplishment. Erotic and sophisticated in tone and content, sharp and searching in observation, fast-paced and readable, it is an unusual love story, a good one and probably one too easy to underestimate. Joseph Meledin Jr. Berlin intrigue "THE DAY BEFORE SUNRISE," Thomas Wiseman, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, $8.95 In the immediate post-World War II years, works of fiction, history, and the like with a wartime theme generally centered about field, air, and naval operations, which literally spanned the globe. There were biographies and autobiographies aplenty of top field commanders. But in recent years, perhaps due in large measure to the declassification of intelligence and other documents, the World War II narratives often have taken on a new flavor built around intrigue and the "inside" of the conflict. Wiseman's novel falls into this pattern. With a historical base, it has been developed against a background of activities of Allen Dulles, director of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Switzerland; and his particular desires to save thousands of Allied lives through an early end to the fighting in Italy. The April, 1945; picture also found Germany itself on the verge of collapse, with Berlin caught between Allied forces and steadily becoming a mass of rubble beneath .-hammer blows from British and '«· United States air power..': . ·- _'.'..., Amid the Berlin ruins in Wiseman's novel is one Ernest Scholler, a Reich Special Investigator ready to deal for his own life and possessing the ingenuity to do it. Scholler and Dulles reach an agreement which sends a young code clerk on Dulles' staff, Howard Elliott, into Germany as Scholler's henchman and assistant to assure Allied possession of certain key German documents and records. Much of the story deals with Elliot's "growing up" amid the web of danger and challenge which engulfs him. You can pretty well envision how this type of plot is developed by the author, and it would be hardly fair to those who will read this novel to disclose more of the tale here. Wiseman has done a particularly effective job of detailing the last days of Hitler and Berlin, and his description of the havoc and confusion of the Third Reich's death throes in itself makes his effort pleasant reading. If the author's name is familiar, there's a reason. His previous writing has included Czar in 1956, and The Quick and the Dead, four years later. . . . . , , . '.:.' .'-".. '" ; T-Charles. R. Lewis June 20.1376, Sunday

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