Changing the Past

Thomas Berger, Author Little Brown and Company $18.45 (285p) ISBN 978-0-316-09149-7
In his 16th novel Berger ( Little Big Man ; Neighbors ) writes as urbanely as befits his main character, Walter Hunsicker, chief copy editor for a Manhattan publisher, who is too sophisticated to be susceptible when a mysterious stranger researching human volition accosts him during his lunch hour. After first rejecting the stranger, in order to spare his wife and brilliant son (ill with AIDS) grief and suffering, Hunsicker agrees to choose a new past and experiment with adopting a range of personas (playboy, stand-up comic, writer, radio psychologist). In the end he returns safely to his suburban life, having, of course, found all of his experiments somehow wanting. Berger writes so amusingly, particularly in the sequence about the comedian, that for quite a while he convinces the reader to overlook the implausibility of his thesis--surprising to find in so jaundiced a story--that it's best to take your lumps, eschew the glamorous, and be just folks. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1989
Release date: 01/01/1989
Paperback - 285 pages - 978-0-14-013323-3
Ebook - 285 pages - 978-1-4804-6849-8
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