In this, the first of a four-book opus, Mcdonald, author of the popular Fletch and Flynn series, forsakes the mystery genre to fashion a microcosm of our times in which his views of life, art and a great many other things are set forth. The novel convenes an abundance of characters at a gentrified Tennessee farm, the home of David MacFarlane, a renowned jazz pianist and composer and his wife, a one-time ``courtesan.'' David has offered his home as the site for the wedding of a famous model to a presidential speech writer, each of whom is the child of old friends of Davidfriends whom he hasn't seen for 25 years. As unlikely as it may seem, these and many other acquaintances accept his invitationthey arrive and arrive and arrive (even during the last chapter) bringing with them dozens of solemn pronouncements more appropriate to a symposium than to a nuptial fete. Over the course of a few days, we hear from the bride's mother, a top designer; her father, an important black activist; the groom's father, an ordained minister who once gained notoriety by posing for a series of nude photographs; and many others, all of whom speak as if for publication. They suffer from every current disorderincluding AIDS, herpes, anorexia and drug addictionand from a common perception that the world hasn't lived up to their expectations. Nor can this book, more an extended preface than a story in itself, live up to ours. (October)
In a departure from his humorous ``Fletch'' mystery series, McDonald has embarked on ``the heart and center of his life's work'' in this first volume of a projected quartet entitled ``Time.'' David MacFarlane, a retired jazz pianist, has offered his bucolic Tennessee farm, Bass Clef, for the wedding of the son and daughter of friends. The tranquil surroundings enable the participants to reflect about their lives and the state of the world. All are old friends, some ex-lovers, and all discuss art, music, creativity, philosophy, in this essentially plotless story. But it's the rich drawing of the many characters that makes the book work. Nothing is really resolved, leaving lots of room for the remaining three works in the series. Highly recommended. Rosellen Brewer, Monterey Cty. Lib., Seaside, Cal.