Commissioned to write a biography of adventurer and psychologist William Ivory, sports journalist Richard Tierney pieces together the truth about Ivory's bizarre death and uncovers his own role in a sinister charade
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The teasing title's not the last touch of bravado in this knowing, nervy first novel--a story chronicling unemployed author Richard Tierney's exploration of the life of British aesthete/adventurer William Ivory after Boston British publisher Dorothy Burton cajoles him into writing a biography of this ``monster.'' Checking into his posh London hotel on Dorothy's advance is only the first step in Tierney's descent into a comic-book hell. Ivory's obituarist Roland Gibbs turns out to be wrong about all the important facts of his subject's life; Ivory's first wife, Helen, whom he never bothered to divorce, stutters through conversations with a jog-trot rhythm courtesy of Parkinson's disease; Nicholas Wheel and Julian Brougham Calder, the two men who answer Tierney's ad for information, are a seedy bar-pianist and a vindictive old drunk who holds court in a tavern called Cunty's. As he follows up hints of Ivory's wide- ranging vices--his resolute immersion in decadence, his fascination with suicide (the cognate cases of Chatterton, Kleist, and especially Mishima are duly trotted out), his domination of Helen, his Euro- wannabe Japanese second wife, Reiko, and Lizzie Sharp, the suicidal stripper who displaced her--Tierney (``I hadn't had to deal with an ethical question since I was in college'') finds himself merging with his subject, fleeing his hotel with unpaid bills, moving in with Helen, identifying Dorothy as Ivory's daughter, injecting his own memories and frustrations into the few passages of his book he's able to finish, and leaving his own book behind in his growing obsession to discover the whereabouts of Ivory's manuscript for Last Things and the manner of his mysterious death. A virtuoso double biography (though Tierney comes across as more interesting than his legendary subject) weak on plot--the promised revelations come as no surprise--but strongly evocative of the biographer's febrile infatuation. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
In an interesting twist on the premise behind Citizen Kane , Flusfeder's first novel is a clever, well-written study of the elusiveness and essential unknowability of human character. Boston sportswriter Richard Tierney is hired by Dorothy Burton to write a biography of William Ivory, a British psychologist, man of letters and translator of Mishima and Tanizaki. According to Burton, Ivory, who died mysteriously in 1980, was a monster; but as Tierney soon discovers, Burton's interest in Ivory is more than academic. As his research takes him into the circle of Ivory's closest friends, Tierney builds a picture of Ivory that is contradictory and intriguing. Although Ivory may be dead, his influence on those he knew lives on--especially in the person of his ex-wife Helen, who jealously guards his memory. But on one point everyone is silent: the manner of Ivory's death. The eventual revelation of how Ivory died solves the book's central puzzler, and rounds out Tierney's portrait. Many troubling questions about Ivory remain unanswered, however, and continue to haunt the reader. Narrated by Tierney and addressed as kind of a long love letter to Burton, his editor/employer, the book adeptly combines an unusual mystery with excellent character studies of both the biographer and his subject.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. Author's first mystery. IBN # sticker of rear panel of DJ. Bookseller Inventory # 001743
Book Description Farrar Straus & Giroux (T), 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0374201625