In his clever second novel, the author of The Liar introduces readers to Ted Wallace: failed poet, failed theater critic, failed father and husband, shameless womanizer, and self-confessed alcoholic. When Ted invites himself to the country estate of his beautiful and mysterious godson under the pretense of writing a family history, the result is ...
In his clever second novel, the author of The Liar introduces readers to Ted Wallace: failed poet, failed theater critic, failed father and husband, shameless womanizer, and self-confessed alcoholic. When Ted invites himself to the country estate of his beautiful and mysterious godson under the pretense of writing a family history, the result is "a deliciously wicked and amusing little fable" (New York Times).
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Publishers Weekly, 1994-10-31 English polymath Fry (actor, playwright, newspaper columnist, fledgling novelist) is one of the funniest people writing on either side of the Atlantic. His debut novel, The Liar, published here two years ago by Soho, was brilliantly comic but a bit disorganized. Now, apart from a tendency to shift perspectives rather unconvincingly (which criticism he gleefully anticipates in his hilariously crotchety foreword), he has matters firmly in hand. The hippo of his title is going-to-seed poet Ted Wallace, an aging lecher who drinks too much and is at odds, in his massively cantankerous way, with most of modern life. His ruminations, including achingly funny riffs on subjects as varied as how much more difficult sex is for men than for women, and why it's easier to be a composer or artist than a poet, are like a combination of Evelyn Waugh and Kingsley Amis but, because Fry is such a dazzling mimic and has a splendid ear for contemporary jargon, funnier than either. His plot is decidedly weird: Ted's goddaughter Jane, apparently cured of cancer by the gifts of a teenage son of a rich tycoon, sends Ted off to the tycoon's family seat in Norfolk to find out how the kid does it. In the end, of course, Ted does so, acting as a rather improbable detective, but only after a series of imaginative set pieces, including a scene with a horse that has to be read to be believed. Fry's wicked queenie patter in the persona of ``Mother'' Oliver is alone worth the price of the book. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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