Out of Sync

Richard Lees, Author, James Lee, Author AJ Publishing Company $14.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-55554-022-7
This is the first novel, written in 1975, by playwright and screenwriter Lees (his second, Parachute, has just come out in Bantam paperback). It is the story of Veign, a disillusioned ex-student who lives in a college town and works in a bookstore. Informed via telegram that he has been selected to be interviewed on TV for a ""bicentennial look'' at a cross-section of American population, Veign, an off-balance person to begin with, is knocked off balance. He must plan, must figure out what to say; now that he has this forum, how should he use it? Simple phrases take on great meaning; he spends time pondering them and worrying that he'll not be ``prepared.'' The interviewer is Kneadle. His wife and children know him mainly from seeing him on TV. He plans his interviews by meticulously predicting all possible answers. Kneadle writes his conclusions and then finds a subject who will fill in the gaps. He plots responses by making lists and more lists: of cars, rock groups, public figures, events, movies . . . ad infinitum. Veign does not realize that the interview will be simple lip service, that Kneadle already has the answers. Lees's descriptions of the excesses of television and of the bicentennial celebration are detailed and pointed, his characters believable and well drawn. On the other hand, the relentless listing of items on grocery shelves, directors, celebrities, etc. make for an authentic time-capsule but tend to halt narrative momentum and bring on boredom. (May)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1991
Release date: 09/01/1991
Genre: Fiction
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