This intelligent, astringent first novel by an editor of the Paris Review is a look at the convictions and commitments of three young Manhattanites. Diane Kendall is a radio engineer dissatisfied with her job at an all-news station and uncomfortable with the admiration of her roommate, Robert Warner, a history teacher at a private high school. Kendall's lover Julian, a handsome singer who's content to get by doing commercial jingles, can bring only superficial feelings to their relationship. (Dee never accords him the dignity of a surname.) When the U.S. secretary of state is assassinated while on a goodwill trip to South America, the ensuing war and media coverage of fighting abroad and protest at home directly and indirectly affect all three characters. Kendall becomes more involved in her work and savvier about relationships, which leads to her breakup with Kendall, who in turn belatedly grows in self-awareness. Warner's conviction that history is relevant to everyday life doesn't go over well with his privileged students; his growing disenchantment with U.S. policy leads him to renounce his country and his field of study. Dee's cool, detached writing style indicates the emotional distances among the characters and the veils they have drawn over their deepest feelings. That he succeeds in making the reader care about them is an indication of his considerable ability. (Oct.)
Kendall, a Manhattan sound engineer for an all-news radio station, uncomfortably shares her one-bedroom apartment with Warner, a history teacher at a private uptown high school. Both have their problems: Kendall hides the fact that her older brother is in prison; Warner tries in vain to make his students feel a personal connection to history's record of social injustice. Kendall's lover, remote, handsome radio jingle singer Julian, enjoys her but refuses to commit to a long-term relationship. When the U.S. Secretary of State is assassinated in the South American town of Colozan, the precarious link between these three lives dissolves as they respond differently to the threat of war. The main characters are indistinct and the ending oddly abrupt, but this brittle novel (by an editor at Paris Review ) is still often involving. For larger contemporary fiction collections.--Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.