cover image Memoirs of a Dance-Hall Romeo

Memoirs of a Dance-Hall Romeo

Jack Higgins. Simon & Schuster, $17.45 (186pp) ISBN 978-0-671-67843-2

Some writers can surprise their fans and win new admirers with a change of pace; this slender yet interminable coming-of-age tale by immensely popular suspense novelist Higgins suggests only that the author shouldn't abandon his career in genre fiction just yet. The abrasively sentimental (and apparently autobiographical) narrative concerns Oliver Shaw, an eager young soldier just out of the British army in 1949 and ready for action of a different kind. `` . . . and so,'' begins the novel, ``I decided to devote myself exclusively to the pursuit of women.'' In this case, it's a fairly trivial pursuit--although Shaw vividly recalls his first time (in fact, his first seven times), the women are an undistinguished, coldly depicted lot--mostly coarse, hard-bitten and insensitive, their unifying characteristic and saving grace seems to be willingness. Between liaisons, Higgins works in a subplot about Shaw's experiences as a schoolteacher and resuscitates a score of postwar cliches. Shaw is also an aspiring novelist, but this self-portrait of the artist as a young stud suggests a fairly mediocre future for him. Major ad/promo; author tour. (Aug.)