I'm Dying Laughing: The Humourist

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9780805004625: I'm Dying Laughing: The Humourist

Spanning three decades, this novel of betrayal, self-defusion, madness, and consuming passions recreates the political turbulence of the American Left and the fears and failures of the cold war years

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From Publishers Weekly:

At her death in 1983, the Australian-born writer, best known for The Man Who Loved Children, left a mass of manuscript and a chaos of drafts, revisions, notes and jottings. The novel now being published bears unavoidable disfiguring scars despite the devoted editorial labors of Stead's literary executor, R.G. Geering. Stead lived in the U.S. during the decade whose eventsthe Depression, WW I, political radicalism and right-wing repressionsaturate the book's atmosphere. Emily Wilkes and Stephen Howard, the principal characters, are Communists who will eventually renounce the Party, for a price, and betray old comrades. She is a Hollywood scriptwriter and popular novelist with higher aspirations; he is a rich Princeton boy who writes for the Party press. Their itinerary from Hollywood to New York to Paris provides a kind of history of Party life as lived by such people in that legendary time. The material itself is fascinating, the writing, especially the dialogue, vital and tumultuous; though the received work is marred by jarring discontinuities. Characters vanish without a trace, ideas lose their grip; but readers unfamiliar with the convoluted internal life, arcane jargon and mindsets of the CP in those years will be introduced to a strange new world.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal:

This posthumously revised novel is dated and flawed, but it provides insight into Stead's view on the political and social climate in the United States, 1930-1960, and on the destructive forces acting on women. A sprawling work, it chronicles the disillusionment and betrayal of self-destructive protagonist Emily Wilkes Howard, a writer of successful popular works in conflict with her milieu. Her husband, his upper-class family, their perfidious circle of friends, the radical Left in America and Europe, the McCarthyitesall participate in destroying this bright woman. Librarians will have to decide whether they wish to complete their offerings on this important novelist, author of The Man Who Loved Children, with a weaker novel. Elizabeth San d vick, English Dept., North Hennepin Community Coll., Minneapolis
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Christina Stead, R. G. Geering (Editor)
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