cover image Take a Good Look

Take a Good Look

Tor Seidler. Farrar Straus Giroux, $18.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-374-27251-7

Seidler, author of four children's books ( The Dulcimer Boy ), combines playfulness with maturity in his utterly believable portrait of Paul Motley, who has been diddling around since college, writing poetry in Massachusetts. When his brother makes a remark about ``the Zeitgeist being visual,'' Paul takes up screenwriting and moves to Manhattan. Infatuated with his neighbor Stevie, a gorgeous actress and waitress, he takes a job at her restaurant and befriends her fellow actor/waiters, the Featherstone twins--formidable Alex, to whom Stevie seems attracted, and childish Mick, who may be drawn to Paul. Superficial and egocentric, yet warmhearted and endearing, Paul is forced to take a good look at himself and begins to set his priorities straight. Seidler's graceful prose, carefully constructed plot, and intriguing climax are almost as impressive as his powers of observation. Also outstanding are the author's ear for dialogue--which rings hip, amusing and true--and his ability to develop characters through action, not explanation. (Aug.)