Camelot

Caryl Rivers, Author Zoland Books $24 (320p) ISBN 978-0-944072-96-7
A mystical valentine to JFK's media-savvy presidency and a Pollyanna-ish portrait of the early Civil Rights movement serve as backdrops of this melodramatic tale of a self-reliant woman reporter discovering liberated love in conservative Belvedere, Md., in 1963. Mary Springer strikes up an acquaintance with President Kennedy when assigned to cover the White House for her paper, the Belvedere Blade. Crisis looms in her life and the life of the country. While Martin Luther King Jr. prepares to march on Washington, racial violence erupts in Belvedere and the president tragically goes about his last days, Mary is immersed in her own problems: learning to live separated from her alcoholic husband while raising their daughter alone. She also finds herself falling in love with sensitive photographer Jay Broderick, and the two end up dangerously involved with local Civil Rights activists. Former Washington correspondent Rivers (Slick Spins and Fractured Facts: How Cultural Myths Distort the News; Indecent Behavior) takes us into the minds of Jay and Mary, often through rather unfortunate fantasies involving Sigmund Freud and the Nixons. Civil Rights leader Donald Johnson appears in first-person entries from his journal, and the inner musings of JFK himself--including ominous premonitions of his demise--are also woven in. The effort is doomed by superficial characterization, contrived plotting and Rivers's tendency to simplify this dramatic era, the nuances of which have already occupied so many biographers and historians. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/28/1998
Release date: 10/01/1998
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