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Film director Kazan's breakout novel seems to have been forgotten by everyone who didn't live through its bestselling tour-de-force in the 60s (according to its cover, the book sold 900,000 copies worldwide). Perhaps modern readers wouldn't mind rediscovering this novel in light of the success of MAD MEN. Certainly book and show inhabit the same universe--a 60s ad-man at the top of his game, who came from nothing and has everything and who can't help but screw it up with a slew of affairs and spur-of-the-moment thrills, who changes his name because he's ashamed of his roots and is seemingly always on a quest to discover who he really is (it would be interesting to know if the MAD MEN writers drew inspiration from the book or its screen adaptation). THE ARRANGEMENT is well worth the read for its energetic prose, effortless humor, insight into 1960s LA and NY, and its bouts of poetic insanity (there has perhaps never been a mid-life crisis quite like Eddie's). Unfortunately, Kazan's Eddie Anderson begins to languish in the final third of this long novel. He spends far too much time seeking answers in a past that made him into the screw-up he's become and--though Eddie swears again and again that he is changing, that he has seen the light--his troubled introspection never brings him anywhere but right back into the same messes. Car crashes, arrests, a bullet wound, institutional commitment, nothing seems to impact Eddie in a meaningful way. In the end we're left believing that his restless spirit wasn't satisfied so much as run around long enough--like a manic dog that finally flops on his side--and he simply settles down with what he's left with. This is a bit disappointing considering we've come 500+ pages to get there, but THE ARRANGEMENT is still a magnetic read, written by a multi-talented artist, and it does deserve to be looked at by at least one more generation...Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 16, 2013
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