Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklySpooner's latest (after Sex and Money ) attempts to illuminate a generation by ranging over a span of 40 years in the lives of four men: brash Red Singer, rich Freddie Temple, ambitious Duke Hennessey and insecure Dickie Rosenberg. Natives of the same Boston suburb but of very different religious and class backgrounds, they rise from jobs as golf caddies at age 13 to business success in their chosen fields of real estate development, film producing, investment banking and apparel manufacturing. In a series of anecdotes linked by periodic golf matches, the novel traces their years in high school and college, their struggles to reach the top (and the price paid by each) their marriages and divorces, business achievements and failures, dreams and ambitions--and, most of all, their efforts to best one another. While Spooner hints at discerning observations, his characters' competitiveness limits their appeal and keeps the reader from understanding what bonds them. Spooner buries any insights he might have in a string of anecdotes and unfocused dialogue, skimming quickly over an odd mix of tones and messages. Most damaging, the plot's pivotal event lacks credibility and thus narrative power. (Mar.)
Library JournalIn 1950 four boys become friends while caddying in the Boston suburb of Brookwood (a renamed but recognizable Brookline) and remain competitive buddies through the next four decades. We follow them through high school (prep school for the affluent WASP) and college, the service (except for the 4-F Irish jock), love affairs sweet and sour, marriages good and bad, and an obsessive pursuit of wealth. Every five years they meet to play golf and determine who is the most successful of the group. Along with their competitiveness they share a secret: their involvement as boys in a freak fatal accident. As they ascend into the worlds of Hollywood, high finance, real estate, and women's fashion, so, too, does their victim's younger brother ascend in the world of politics until he is poised to run for the presidency and becomes an inescapable presence in the lives of the foursome. Entertaining reading by the author of the nonfiction Sex and Money ( LJ 3/1/85), both as a trip down memory lane and as an examination of the male ego.-- Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.
Gilbert TaylorA quartet of Boston boys--two Jewish, one Irish, one WASPish--equal a bunch hail and heartily met, often on the golf links. They tee off here at age 12, circa 1950, and every five years or so, up to 1988, the author sketches a party, a group grope, college, marriage, or career to accumulate impressions of their personalities and web of friendship. They never fully molt their adolescent selves, and engage in bawdy badinage with as much crude, f-your-sister gusto at age 50 as ever. Red Singer, the moviemaker, is the same fast talker who threw up at Dickie Rosenberg's bar mitzvah; to get along, go-along Dickie runs his father's business per grand plan; Duke Hennessey throws his weight around in the construction business as well as he did on the gridiron; and to-the-manor-born Fred Temple settles into the inevitable big-bucks job on Wall Street with accompanying beautiful wife. Here, if ever there was an opportunity, is where Nemesis could wreak some retributive tragedy on self-satisfied galoots. But not even their darkest secret--accidently causing the local congressman's death--can deflect them from their annointed successes. After each five-year lacuna, they gather to razz, brag, and bet on who's ahead of whom. Since there is essentially no plot, Spooner fills the void with the thematic principle that guys will be guys, structure enough to attract readers to an unfolding chronology of some upper-crust Beantown buddies, their colleges and country clubs.
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
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