- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
If Peter Lefcourt were just another straight-faced, funny-yet-regular guy hooked on his own lacerating wit, it would be pretty easy to take him or leave him. But he's got a rare gift. Although he writes like one of those likable, honest Joes with a backwards-turned baseball cap, before you know it, he's pulled a fast one on you -- and you realize he's an honest Joe who takes no prisoners.
The premise of Abbreviating Ernie -- the successor to Lefcourt's sly, delightful novel Di and I -- could have been lifted straight from some alternate suburban universe. Ernie, a middle-aged cross-dressing urologist, croaks while he's making love to his vacant, Prozac-addicted wife, Audrey. She's handcuffed to the stove at the time and, unfortunately, his tumescent member's gotten stuck. Luckily, she's just able to reach a nearby electric carving knife -- and the rest is history. She's arrested and brought to trial, and her case becomes a magnet for a loopy circle of characters including a Native-American deaf-mute burglar of modest aspirations (his name's Emmanuel Longhouse), a pair of dueling tabloid journalists, a small-time old-school detective and a frumpy, knee-sock-wearing lawyer who's dead-set on turning shallow, drippy Audrey into a feminist icon. (There's also a Rottweiler who just may have the answer to the question: Where's the missing schlong?) Abbreviating Ernie is a yummy little satire of mass-media feeding frenzies, but it's one that swings. Even when Lefcourt's at his nastiest, his prose is like a badminton birdie lobbed high into the air: "In addition to opportunity and motive, the prosecution had the urological argument, or, as D'Imbroglio referred to it, the hard-on theory. They could argue that in order for Ernest Haas' penis to be cut off, it had to be erect, and if it was erect, blood was flowing through it and therefore he had to be alive. And if Ernest Haas was alive, Audrey Haas showed depraved indifference to his well-being by severing his penis." Lefcourt also knows that there's nothing like a little love interest to spice up all that dismemberment and depravity, and he's not shy about revealing his dirty little secret: He's a hard-core romantic. When, after circling each other for most of the novel, two of Lefcourt's most appealing characters finally tumble into bed, their pleasure is both delicious and hard-earned. Lefcourt plays the moment beautifully: He's fearless when it comes to all that mushy stuff. He makes me think of that great exchange in Never Say Never Again when Barbara Carrera makes a grand entrance on water skis, spraying water all over Sean Connery's sport-jacketed James Bond. "I've made you all wet, James," she says. And he replies, "Yes, but my martini's still dry." That's Abbreviating Ernie: Dry in all the right places -- and wet where it really counts. -- Salon