Bright Lights, Big City such a shocker, offering an analogous take on the dot-com boom in a book lo"/>
 

YOUNG MEN ON FIRE

Howard Hunt, Author
Howard Hunt, Author . Scribner $13 (256p) ISBN 978-0-7432-4173-1
Reviewed on: 06/30/2003
Release date: 07/01/2003
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4165-8735-4
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-2093-4
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Hunt updates the jaded, full-throttle party attitude that made Bright Lights, Big City such a shocker, offering an analogous take on the dot-com boom in a book long on hip commentary, elaborate pick-up scenes and crisp character writing, but noticeably short on plot. The story begins when Dr. Jim Troxler, a surgeon who has lived in Australia for five years, returns to New York to meet up with his brother, Martin, a successful writer of popular social criticism. Together, they plan to drive to Florida to see their father, who has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer. But instead Martin drags Jim on a club-going odyssey, along with C.C. Baxter, the founder of a failing online ad agency, and the hysterical Big Guy, a Web content salesman who assumes a different personality with each successive pick-up effort. The male bonding sequences get old in a hurry, but Hunt supplements the "bunny hunting" expedition with commentary from would-be paramours, a group of young women who offer a decidedly different take on the evening hustle. Hunt has his nightlife routine down pat, from the cultural analysis to the cocaine interludes. The novel shifts gears at the end, though, turning from the ongoing brother vs. brother battle that dominates the party scenes to Jim's flirtation with a comely drummer. Their surprisingly touching and sensitive romantic banter shows plenty of promise, but it comes too late to work as a full-blown subplot. While the cultural commentary has its share of appeal, the heartfelt effectiveness of the romantic writing exposes the facile, trendy approach in the earlier chapters, leaving readers to wonder what might have been if the author had developed a richer story line earlier in the book. (July 8)

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