The Habits of a Lifetime: An L.A. Story

Ethan Feinsod, Author
Ethan Feinsod, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (234p) ISBN 978-0-312-08205-5
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Mining the free-spirited '60s for villainy, first novelist Feinsod (Awake in a Nightmare) renders a somber 1990s resolution for characters who fail to elicit much reader sympathy. In college three decades ago, David Robbins roomed with Nick Sawyer. Through the years, David progressed from a druggie to a convicted felon estranged from his wife Paula and his daughter Cassie, then to a reformed sheep farmer in the Sierra foothills near Sacramento; meanwhile, Nick became a hedonistic rock superstar. The two remained friends even after Paula married Nick. But now Paula has been stabbed to death in the big house in the Hollywood hills, and Nick has vanished, along with Cassie and the couple's little boy, leaving a trail of cocaine. Tracing Nick and Cassie, David warily revisits old haunts and habitucbes, reluctantly reestablishing ties to the counterculture cacophony of sex and sound, free love and pharmaceuticals. Banal dialogue and hesitant characterization leave the reader perched on the edge of this hazy mystery, unable to engage with the dull, burned-out characters and their plights. (Oct.)
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