Bradley's third novel, following the well-regarded Tupelo Nights , follows the trajectory of newspaperman Joseph Burke. Once a promising reporter for a D.C. daily, Joseph has gone into freefall since a gossip columnist reported that he was sleeping with a source, the wife of a prominent U.S. senator. As a result, he is now ensconced in the paper's obituary department, a journalistic graveyard in every sense. Joseph's love life is no less discouraging than the state of his career, although he is so good-looking that several of the female characters in the book call him beautiful. Moreover, his father, Woody, has been feigning paralysis since the auto accident that killed Joseph's mother and injured him. Bradley's prose is angular and mannered, his characters never really find distinctive voices, and the plot meanders more than a little. Yet there is something genuinely moving about Burke's befuddlement and his eventual resurrection through the love he finds with the widow of one of his obituary subjects. Moreover, the warmth characterizing both the relationships among Burke and his best friends on the paper--the chief obit writer, who is a compulsive eater, and a reckless photographer who may be HIV-positive--and his dealings with his crusty, funny father carry the reader to the very satisfying conclusion. Author tour. (Feb.)
His newspaper career is in decline, his marriage dissolved, his mother dead and his father partially paralyzed in a car accident, but Joseph Burke still has his looks, though his life is a shambles. Relegated to ``Death Row'' (the Siberia of the Wash ington Herald newsroom) because he slept with a source who was the wife of a distinguished senator, Burke, at 33, writes nothing but obituaries. Will his father, who's smitten with a married Salvadoran nurse, walk again? Will love blossom with Laura, lovely widow of a prominent restaurateur whose obit he wrote? And just how closely does art follow life in this third novel ( Tupelo Nights, LJ 5/1/88; The Best There Ever Was, LJ /9/1/90) by former Washington Post staff writer Bradley? Despite some engaging moments in this offbeat story, Burke is not a character one cares much about, and capital intrigue is not enough to carry it.--Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.