The Illustrator

James Robison, Author Summit Books $17.45 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-52724-2
Robison's precise command of language, his wickedly acute ear and mocking voice, mark him as a writer of talent. But his slim novel ultimately boils down to another tale of urban angst and emotional burnout. Ash, a middle-aged, emotionally deadened commercial artist, begins a weird, half sexual, half paternalistic relationship with 17-year-old Pauline, known throughout the book as ""Q.'' She speaks in adolescent vernacular: ``We're about to fuck, he goes, help me pick out clothes''; ``I better tell you now I'm like in high school?'' What really endears her to Ash is her naivete. He's forgotten how to feel. He quits his job, goes to Brazil on a doomed business venture, returns home, starts to paint againseriouslytakes up with his ex-wifean open marriage that failed, partly because she stabbed him in a fit of ragegoes to Vermont to paint . . . and so forth, a series of random, meaningless adventures, until the rather grim ending. Written as a sequence of intensely focused vignettes, this is a mean-spirited satire whose humor, too often, falls flat. As a relentlessly contemporary slice-of-life, however, it accurately reflects a name-brand obsessed, self-involved generation that refuses to grow up. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-0-7475-0236-4
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