In Cahoots:: A Novel of Southern California, 1953

Malcolm MacPherson, Author Random House (NY) $21 (288p) ISBN 978-0-679-42204-4
California dreams, suburban strangeness and Walt Disney form the backdrop for this deceptively light, engaging novel about an Anaheim real estate scheme set in the early '50s. Bud is a recent arrival to SoCal, a soda truck driver and part-time dreamer who tries to better himself and his family through get-rich-quick schemes worthy of Ralph Kramden. With friends and neighbors, Bud tries to figure out the proposed location of the animation mogul's planned theme park, then to buy a parcel of the land and sell it to Disney at an inflated price. MacPherson ( The Lucifer Key ), a Premiere staffer who grew up a mile from the orange grove that would become Disneyland, captures the loopy, apprehensive anticipation of the new California suburbs perfectly, and he surrounds Bud with a wonderfully quirky cast of couples. At heart, though, this is a novel about family, and MacPherson strikes it rich with his delicate, sympathetic writing about the wonders and limits of the nuclear unit. The conflict between Bud and his adolescent son Callum is particularly sharp and telling, as is the subplot in which Bud hocks his wife's brooch in order to pursue his dream. The flaws are minor: the pace sometimes slows to a crawl, the female characters are mostly superficial and, occasionally, a scene will be a real clunker. But Disney fans especially will delight in this fictional exploration of the goofy legacy of uncle Walt, who ``swims through dreams the way a shark swims through the water.'' (May)
Reviewed on: 05/02/1994
Release date: 05/01/1994
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