In Dahlie's entertaining debut, Arthur Camden is a fly fisherman, devoted husband and father, and minor Manhattan socialite who would like nothing more than to avoid "troubling introspection." Yet his slow botching of the family import-export business and the sudden dissolution of his marriage certainly have something to do with his bursting into tears at a meeting of the Hanover Street Fly Casters-a men's club founded by his great-grandfather-and declaring his steadfast love for its members. This display of emotion is only the first crack in his reputation, and a sojourn to his son's Colorado ranch begins a retreat to the safety of the club's restricted world, while sorting out a bevy of complex feelings he struggles to recognize, let alone process. In the balance is nothing short of his identity and self-worth, stakes that debut novelist Dahlie makes abundantly clear with light comic touches. Dahlie's dry and understated portrayal of old upper-crust Manhattan is as crisp and authentic as a well-made gin and tonic; the various turns of plot are swift and precise; and one is soon rooting for Arthur to get his groove back. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Portrait of a well-heeled wimp. When we first see Arthur Camden he's crying his eyes out. The middle-aged New Yorker has reached his nadir. He has run the family import-export business into the ground, and his trampy wife Rebecca has divorced him. Arthur's a member of an exclusive fishing club, the Fly Casters, and he has his tearful breakdown in front of his fellow members, believing them to be his friends. He's wrong; for most of them he's a figure of fun, but there's an exception, Ken Fielder, who fixes Arthur up with some dates which don't pan out. Then Arthur dates a woman called Rixa who insists he show her the club's luxurious lodge in the Catskills, though it's breaking the rules to sneak in strangers. The evening is a disaster; accident-prone Arthur causes a fire and bursts into tears as the club burns down. He's forced to resign, but he still has his Park Avenue apartment and enough money to sustain a work-free lifestyle. Time to escape Manhattan. He takes up the reluctantly proffered invitation of an old school friend with a nice spread in the French Alps, but Prentice Ross is no more a friend now than his erstwhile fishing buddies. He's a neglectful host, an angry alcoholic who lands Arthur in trouble with the cops; lacking the guts to deck Ross, Arthur beats a hasty retreat to Switzerland. Instead of a plot Dahlie arranges a series of scenes that humiliate Arthur without granting him self-knowledge; the point being, presumably, that there's no fool like an old fool. At a family reunion on Nantucket he steals his cousin's watch, an expensive family heirloom, only to have its loud alarm incriminate him, a moment of primitive farce. Farce is followed by wild improbability whenex-wife Rebecca, quite drunk, pressures Arthur into meaningless sex, leading him to hope for a reconciliation. Fat chance. Touted as a comedy, Dahlie's debut is an exercise in schadenfreude that is not remotely funny. Agent: Douglas Stewart/Sterling Lord Literistic