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From the Publisher"Novels are supposed to tell something about the real world, but in most novels about the upper classes money figures only in the decor, the things that money can buy. Begley's books have the great virtue of knowing about money itself, how it's acquired and kept.... Begley's previous books gravitated rather anxiously toward Europe, which was seen as the source both of any satisfactory culture and of appalling historical and personal tragedy. About Schmidt turns toward America and the present, exchanging an interest in suffering and failure, with its dangerous possibilities of self-magnification, for comic romance, with its emphasis not on finality but on life going on anyway."
—The New York Review of Books
"Albert Schmidt is another of Begley's brilliant impostors, though this time an impostor unaware of his charade. He is the cultivated man—out of
Harvard, no less—unable to acknowledge his subtle strain of
Jew-hating.... About Schmidt amounts to an intriguing about-face for
Begley.... By blinding his flawed hero, Begley has painted an indelible portrait of a man with a hole where his soul should be."
"What emerges... is a poignant study of aging centered on a man whose flaws become both sinister and sympathetic. In an era of encroaching coarseness, where civility dissolves... Schmidt summons in us remembrance of elegance past.... Is he a cultured patrician, a supercilious snob or both? Whichever he is, Begley succeeds wonderfully in making us care."
—San Francisco Chronicle
"Consistently subtle and intelligent, this novel ends by getting under your skin despite the unlikability of its protagonist. You are left with the feeling of having found out the complex truth behind the impeccable facade of someone you might never notice if you met him at a party."
—The New York Times Book Review
"If the sorrows of old 'Schmidtie' strike us as somewhat short of fully tragic, less than deeply moving, it's clearly intentional; Begley means for us to keep our distance—to withhold our sympathies—from his smug,
officious hero.... It's this that makes Begley's novel most interesting and nervy."
—Washington Post/Book World
"In the end, Begley has created a terribly funny, touching, infuriating and complex character in Schmidt, whose self-deceptions and imprisonment by his own world-view stand not only as a devastating portrait of a disappearing world but also sound a strangely evocative cautionary tale."
—Los Angeles Times Book Review
"In what could be called a novel of bad manners, Begley again demonstrates that he can reveal the complexities of society and personality with a clear eye and graceful style. Schmidt may not live up to today's strict standards of political correctness, but he more than meets the requirements of convincing fiction."