A Father's Kisses

Bruce Jay Friedman, Author
Bruce Jay Friedman, Author Dutton Books $22.95 (258p) ISBN 978-1-55611-499-1
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Middle American levelheadedness finds a hilarious new spokesman in William Binny, whose boredom and love for his daughter transform him from unemployed poultry worker into international hit man. Friedman's witty, beguiling slapstick is set--perhaps in central Arkansas--in a town ""voted `America's Third Friendliest City' by a spinoff of Forbes."" Widower Binny, whose job was given away while he was trying to find himself on vacation in Czechoslovakia, spends his days minding the timer at the local tanning salon and breakfasting leisurely at Ed Bivens's diner, where he first meets Valentine Peabody, a standoffish, wealthy Brit visiting from Karachi. With his job gone, his wife dead and his best friend recently killed in an auto accident, Binny is lonely, bored, depressed and worried about providing for his 11-year-old daughter, Lettie. Already hoping to make Peabody his new friend, Binny gets more than he bargains for when Peabody offers to make him rich for killing the enemies of Peabody's mysterious billionaire employer. Friedman (A Mother's Kisses; The Lonely Guy's Book of Life, etc.) tells his story in the frank, editorializing voice of Binny, who, for all his foibles, is the novel's most stable character. Amid wacky plot twists, Binny mouths off about bigotry, political correctness, male bonding, fatherhood, showbiz and old-fashioned American family values, among other topics, in crisp prose imbued with Friedman's odd, distinctive comic sensibility. Author tour. (Sept.)
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