Jack Gance

Ward S. Just, Author
Ward S. Just, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $17.45 (279p) ISBN 978-0-395-49337-3
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Just, veteran of the political novel ( The American Ambassador , Nicholson at Large ), now lives in Paris, but his heart is on Capitol Hill. This time around, his theme is the corruption endemic to the system, and his protagonist, Jack Gancepollster, idea man, ``Mr. Fixit'' who can swing electionswho climbs from Chicago's wards to cushy Washington jobs from the 1960s through the '80s. A confirmed bachelor who carries on with married women, Gance is no faceless White House functionary. He's a vulnerable, sensitive, wounded opportunist, fond of Brahms and Dreiser, who learns that shady connections and loyalty to the party machine are prerequisites to success. Just creates wholly believable characters: Jack's scoundrel father, thrown in jail for tax evasion; high-powered attorney Elly Mozart, who buys off politicians; Tap Gobelin, smooth Washington reporter; Carole Nierendorf, a displaced Southerner bored with her workaholic lawyer husband in Chicago. The story eventually runs out of steam, but along the way it fearlessly explores some of Just's distinguishing preoccupations: the rage between fathers and sons, the arrogance of power, conservative WASP uptightness, the mediocrity of academia. This is a Washington novel of rare psychological penetration and literary craft. (Jan.)
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