THE UP AND COMER

Howard Roughan, Author
Howard Roughan, Author . Warner $23.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-446-52666-1
Reviewed on: 04/30/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
Mass Market Paperbound - 384 pages - 978-0-446-61210-4
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-58621-052-6
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The strain of living an excessive, brazen, lavishly upper-tier Manhattan life in an "incredibly self-centered, every-man-for-himself world" takes a disastrous toll on the narrator of Roughan's supremely hip, brazen debut. Right from the opening pages, married 30-something cutthroat attorney Philip Randall shamelessly admits to enjoying an extramarital affair with Jessica, his best friend Connor's girlfriend. He's definitely not a likable guy, especially when spewing smug commentary on just about every aspect of city life, and when socializing with wife Tracy's haughty Greenwich, Conn., family. But enter penniless "stoner" Tyler Mills, a prep school buddy of Philip's, who has unexpectedly blown into town, and this time Philip's arsenal of designer labels and street-smart manipulation fails him. Tyler, flashing his "Manson Family grin," has been busy spying on his school chum's secret rendezvous with Jessica and predictably proceeds to blackmail him. Outraged at his friend's audacity and escalating threats, Philip hatches a double-crossing scheme. As Roughan wraps his crafty plot around some impressively tense moments, the novel morphs into an engaging, cinematic page-turner. Auxiliary characters, particularly Philip's robust boss, Jack Devine, and Jack's kind, innocuous wife, Sally, are well-drawn and convincing, adding the depth and humanity necessary to counteract Philip's almost robotic duplicity. The novel's atypical conclusion, awash in wincing retrospection and a refreshing comeuppance, offers a satisfying and sentimental balance. Time-Warner audio book. (June 5)

Forecast: Already optioned by USA Films, with the movie version slated to be produced by Michael Douglas, this derivative but slickly vibrant book will doubtless trade on the hype. Targeted marketing—transit advertising in the New York area and Wall Street giveaways—should help, and jacket blurbs by Bret Easton Ellis, among other yuppie dignitaries, will heighten the buzz.

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