Peter Leroy constructs a plausible adult life for his grade school chum Matthew Barber, now living in Boston, where he is vice-president of a toy company by day, but becomes Bertram W. Beath, restaurant reviewer, when the sun goes down. Reservations Recommended is a satire of the critical mind; a dark commentary on contemporary culture; a story of midlife crisis; a morality play; and a book that matches bleakness against humor, seasoned throughout with B. W. Beath’s hilariously acid reviews. We watch as Matthew ...
Peter Leroy constructs a plausible adult life for his grade school chum Matthew Barber, now living in Boston, where he is vice-president of a toy company by day, but becomes Bertram W. Beath, restaurant reviewer, when the sun goes down. Reservations Recommended is a satire of the critical mind; a dark commentary on contemporary culture; a story of midlife crisis; a morality play; and a book that matches bleakness against humor, seasoned throughout with B. W. Beath’s hilariously acid reviews. We watch as Matthew Barber descends from a self-protective superiority into a species of madness, and into the dark night of the soul. • “A brilliant satire.” LA Life • “Scary.” Kirkus Reviews • “Shrewd, adroit, and spirited.” Donna Seaman, Booklist • “A moving urban fable.” Roger Harris, Newark Star Ledger • “A merciless sendup of contemporary American pretensions.’ Janice Harayda, Cleveland Plain Dealer • “Wonderfully readable . . . touching and intelligent.” Richard Gehr, The Village Voice
With the protagonist of this novel, 43-year-old Matthew Barber, a recently divorced toy company executive who's also an undercover restaurant critic, Kraft examines a more constricted world than he did in the effervescent Herb 'n' Lorna. Matthew haunts the dining establishments of Boston--often in the company of girlfriend Belinda--and, as B. W. Beath, writes sardonic reviews for a trendy local paper. Although he's successful in both lines of work and enjoys uninhibited, frequent sex with Belinda, the failure of his marriage (and a childhood as a fat boy) have left Matthew with serious self-doubts. In chapters organized around restaurant visits and capped by reviews, Kraft charts the collapse of Matthew's habitual timidity (kept in place with assorted macho fantasies) under the louder and louder blandishments of his alter ego B.W. Kraft's observant eye, his sure approach to sex, his wit--Matthew deplores what he calls his adequacy complex--are here, but the inventiveness that lifted his earlier work out of the ordinary isn't. Heed the title. (May)
In real life Matthew Barber is a successful toy company executive who entertains his casual lover in a penthouse apartment with a splendid view of a ghetto. After hours, he is Bertram W. BW Heath, his pseudonymous, supercilious alter ego, restaurant reviewer for trendy Boston Biweekly. At heart he's still the lonely, humiliated fat boy he once was, suffering the middle-aged male fear of never rising above the level of adequate, and still longing--against logic--for his ex-wife to come back. Each chapter centers on a dining experience, concluded with a BW review, in crisp prose which parodies reviews and restaurants in particular and modern urban life in general. Most of this book is such a reading pleasure that readers may find themselves doling out chapters as if they were a favorite food. But humiliation spawns violence, and the comedy turns black, as Kraft Herb 'n' Lorna , LJ 4/1/88 makes a final comment on the contemporary scene.-- Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.
- Donna Seaman
"Shrewd, adroit, and spirited."
Cleveland Plain Dealer
- Janice Harayda
"A merciless sendup of contemporary American pretensions.'
The Village Voice
- Richard Gehr
"Wonderfully readable . . . touching and intelligent."
The Boston Phoenix
- Robert Nadeau
"Hilariously on the mark, . . . witty enough to steal."
Eric Kraft grew up in Babylon, New York, on the South Shore of Long Island, where he was for a time co-owner and co-captain of a clam boat, which sank. He met or invented the character Peter Leroy while dozing over a German lesson during his first year at Harvard. The following year, he married his muse, Madeline Canning; they have two sons. After earning a Master’s Degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Kraft taught school in the Boston area for a while, moonlighting as a rock music critic for the Boston Phoenix. Since then, he has undertaken a variety of hackwork to support the Kraft ménage and the writing of the voluminous work of fiction that he calls The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy. He has been the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts; was, briefly, chairman of PEN New England; and has been awarded the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature.