Pool

Ajay Sahgal, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $20 (210p) ISBN 978-0-87113-559-9
``Having a little existential crisis, are we? . . . I think I should tell you it's been done before.'' Thus friend and reluctant host Jeremiah aptly pronounces the emotional bankruptcy not only of weltschmerz -y 20-something megastar Emery Roberts, on the run from his current film, his lover and his life in general, but also of this glib debut novel's account of his troubles. Although Emery flees to the sweltering New England summer, he brings with him a dense Hollywood smog of dropped names and industry backbiting, and an incestuous tangle of relationships where the boundaries between business and the personal are lost to sight. Emery's porous sanctuary is a Vermont farmhouse peopled by other Hollywood exiles, none of them happy, none of them free, none of them content. Unfortunately, none of them--alcoholic poor little rich girl, embittered sidelined agent, etc.--is very interesting either, and Emery's own drained, affectless musings can't redeem them from the superficiality to which Sahgal's dialogue-dominated prose, appropriately adopting the lucid, declarative calm of a screenplay, condemns them. That these characters are trapped in a world of surfaces is of course the point--and Sahgal's central metaphor, a redundant lakeside swimming pool, whose excavation the motley gang's dissipated, debilitated energies cannot complete, rams it home--but while Sahgal is a first rate purveyor of Variety in-jokes, as a novelist he has yet to venture out of the shallow end. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/1994
Release date: 01/01/1994
Paperback - 210 pages - 978-0-8021-3343-4
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