The Man Who Was Late

The Man Who Was Late

by Louis Begley
     
 

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"Begley writes with a contemplative wisdom that permeates his work....[He] has captured some of the wispy melancholy of midcentury fiction, and this feat in itself is mellifluous to both ear and spirit."
THE BOSTON GLOBE
A man without a country or family, a Holocaust survivor, Ben long ago left the wreckage of Europe and recreated himself as a brilliant

Overview

"Begley writes with a contemplative wisdom that permeates his work....[He] has captured some of the wispy melancholy of midcentury fiction, and this feat in itself is mellifluous to both ear and spirit."
THE BOSTON GLOBE
A man without a country or family, a Holocaust survivor, Ben long ago left the wreckage of Europe and recreated himself as a brilliant financier. He rejects the comforts of love and is shocked to discover Veronique—beautiful, unwisely married, and all that Ben suddenly knows he has always needed. In their stolen hours and weekends, their deep commitment to one another fills their lives as nothing ever has. But the question remains: Can Ben finally take what he has always denied himself...?
From the author of WARTIME LIES.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As in his prizewinning first novel, Wartime Lies , Begley has written an ironic narrative from an emotionally displaced person's distinctive point of view. The protagonist here is a middle-aged international investment banker with a Wall Street firm. Despite his Harvard education and sophisticated social skills, Ben cannot surmount a sense of loss and dislocation, the result of his background as a post-WW II emigre from Central Europe (he deliberately distanced himself from his parents and his Jewish heritage). Masking his existential angst with a luxurious lifestyle, Ben has survived a divorce and the loss of beloved stepdaughters, and is determined never to endure such pain again. When his beautiful French lover destroys her marriage and risks everything by declaring her love for him, Ben subconsciously torpedoes their future together. Finally he understands that his ingrained caution, symptomatic of his fear that happiness is ephemeral, has ruined his life. Begley's sophisticated prose is studded with highbrow references to authors, filmmakers and artists, and contains solid descriptions of the world of international commerce in New York, France, Japan and Brazil. In writing of the upper class, Begley invites comparisons with Louis Auchincloss; his style is similarly urbane and elegant, his eye equally unsparing. Despite his ``barren, dark and desperate'' protagonist's failings, Begley succeeds in making him a poignant figure. BOMC and QPB alternates. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Begley follows up National Book Award nominee Wartime Lies ( LJ 5/1/91), the story of a young Jewish boy's survival during World War II, with a second work that at first glance seems markedly different. His hero is Ben, a high-gear, high-profile banker who is nevertheless always ``late''--in certain essential matters, he misses the mark. Ben is a Harvard graduate who mingles easily with the upper class, but his roots as a Jewish refugee are still evident. Ben's story is narrated by Jack, a genuine Harvard WASP who writes for a living but is too obtuse to get around the slippery corners of his friend's personality. An affair with Jack's cousin, Veronique, brings out Ben's fatal inability to confront himself and eventually leads to tragedy. Ben's slick personality sometimes leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and readers might wonder whether Begley is mocking or buying into upper-class pretensions. But the author demonstrates once again that he can write a compelling story in disarmingly lucid prose. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/92.-- Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679415114
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/29/1992
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
243
Product dimensions:
6.05(w) x 8.67(h) x 0.99(d)

What People are saying about this

Cynthia Ozick
Begley's great theme remains (as in his earlier Wartime Lies) imposture, the idea of the impersonator.

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