W. D. Wetherell, Author MORNINGW.D. Wetherell

Capturing the high spirits and excitement of television in the early 1950s, when no one was sure yet what might be successful, Wetherell builds a dramatic story on the format and best-remembered personalities of TV's original Today show, complete with its bespectacled star with his outheld palm as a signoff and his chimpanzee sidekick. The delight of this imaginatively told narrative lies in how fully it makes use of the history and technology of the early years of television, and how little it depends upon exploiting familiar personalities. The casting, rapid rise and hectic career of Morning host Alec McGowan comes to an abrupt end in 1954 when he is shot and murdered on the air by his announcer and longtime sidekick from radio days, Chet Standish. That story is now being reconstructed in the winter of 2000 by Chet's son and Alec's namesake, Alec Brown, the book's narrator, who is researching a biography of Alec McGowan and about to meet his father, now aged and dying of cancer, on his release from prison. Cast superficially in the mold of reportorial novels of the '50s like The Great Man, which purport to dig up the private truth about a recognizable public figure, this ambitious and inventive novel makes free use of its historical material, creating a story with meaning and dramatic weight entirely its own. (Apr.)

Forecast:Wetherell's work is well known in the northeast; this is his seventh book of fiction (previous novels include The Man Who Loved Levittown; Wherever That Great Heart May Be), and his nonfiction titles include a Smithsonian guide to Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. He's a new author for Pantheon, and their confidence that he's a rising star is motivating a 50,000 first printing and a seven-city author tour. Expect strong regional sales and, if the push works, national success as well.

Reviewed on: 02/19/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-385-72273-5
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