Push, Meet Shove

Peter Barthelme, Author St. Martin's Press $14.95 (200p) ISBN 978-0-312-01064-5
At the opening of this garbled thriller, Mr. Beaumonta hard-drinking middle-aged Texan with little to his credit besides a tendency to look on the brighter side of failureis selling off assets in a half-hearted attempt to salvage his faltering advertising agency. The sudden, serendipitous appearance of an affluent new client commanding hefty six-figure commissions promises to boost Beaumont's fortunes, but the deal soon starts to tighten around his neck. Coerced by blackmail and intimidation, Beaumont finds himself partaking in what he suspects are illegal dealings. Not that he is thoroughly unhappy about these shady escapades: a would-be adventurer and eternal ham, he likes living on the edge; it gives him something to joke about. Readers, on the other hand, may be considerably less entertained by this poor man's James Bond as they follow him through to the loose ends of a flimsy and contorted plot line. The saving grace of this first novel (by a brother of Donald and Frederick Barthelme), is Beaumont's first-person narration: the man's jovial, self-deprecating voice is consistent and believable, if not quite appealing enough to make it all worthwhile. (November 23)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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