The World's Last Night

William Jovanovich, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $18.95 (303p) ISBN 978-0-15-199432-8
This is the fourth novel by the recently retired chairman of the company that bears his name, and although it has some impressive virtues it never convinces us that Jovanovich is a natural novelist. He has a grasp of character, and a knack for striking scenes, writes sometimes with real economy and force; but the canvas is overcrowded--with superfluous characters, with sudden seemingly unmotivated flashbacks--and there is an overall lack of focus. Publishing people will enjoy parts of the story of the rise of John Sirovich, a young Serbian, Colorado-born, who rebels against Navy inertia at the end of World War II, then makes a fortune in scientific journal and facsimile publishing in the fat education years that follow. He marries a beautiful Southern socialite who becomes a minor movie star, sells his company to a bigger one and eventually engineers a boardroom coup that puts him on top of the heap. Along the way, wife Nancy loses her firstborn and he has a heart attack. Mixed with copious memories of his desperate childhood, that is the book. It is never trivial, but the business details seem to involve the author more wholeheartedly than does the rather tight-lipped human drama, and there is a distinct lack of narrative grip. (Aug . )
Reviewed on: 08/29/1990
Release date: 09/01/1990
Genre: Fiction
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