Glad Rags

McDonald Harris, Author, MacDonald Harris, Author
McDonald Harris, Author, MacDonald Harris, Author Story Line Press $21.95 (336p) ISBN 978-0-934257-34-3
Reviewed on: 02/04/1991
Release date: 02/01/1991
Ben Gavilan--compulsive eavesdropper, retired small-press publisher, cultured divorce with one arm withered by polio--lives in a cottage on the grounds of a hotel in Santa Barbara, Calif. When he falls madly in love at first sight with Cecilia Penn, a harpsichord student half his age, he diagnoses himself as a middle-aged sentimentalist, an absolute fool, a wealthy machochist, ``the hero of Nabokov's novel.'' With the deliciously wry comedy for which he is noted, Harris ( Hemingway's Suitcase ) poignantly depicts a September/May romance as one man's reluctant farewell to youth and beauty, ``a preliminary to his farewell to life itself.'' For dreamy, placid Cecilia, it's a stepping-stone to a New Age wedding ceremony--with someone else. Orbiting the star-crossed lovers are an arty circle of friends, including a cynical Russian emigre novelist, his alcoholic wife, their mixed-up daughter and a woman posing as an astronomer. In witty philosophical asides, Harris invokes Chekhov, Ibsen, Flaubert, Homer and Dostoyevski as he plumbs love's ecstasies and follies. (Mar.)
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