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Delancey's Way

James McCourt

6 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0375403116 / ISBN 13: 9780375403118
Published by Knopf, 2000
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Dan Pope Books (West Hartford, CT, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Knopf (New York), 2000. First edition. Hardbound. SIGNED BY AUTHOR on title page. New in dust jacket. A perfect unread copy. 0.0. Bookseller Inventory # 943

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Delancey's Way

Publisher: Knopf

Publication Date: 2000

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition....

About this title


An operatic, satirical romp through (high and low) Washington -- filled with politicos and pundits, divas and divine spirits -- by the greatly admired author of Time Remaining and the cult classic Mawrdew Czgowchwz ("Bravo, James McCourt, a literary countertenor, in the exacting tradition of Firbank and Nabokov" -- Susan Sontag).
It opens with Delancey, a reporter for the East Hampton Star, being sent to cover the environmental budget wars of the 104th Congress, his copy of Henry Adams's Democracy in hand, for background on the farrago called overnment. It introduces us to le tout de Washington: the socialite (and exiled eighties New York party girl) Anastasia Harrington (a.k.a. Bam-Bam) and her billionaire husband, Max; a senator obsessed with the fall of the republic and with his rogue companion, an ex-hustler and congressional phone-sex virtuoso; the semiretired transvestite ballerina Odette O'Doyle and the diva (operatic and otherwise) Vana Sprezza; and Delancey's new friend, Ornette, a living antidote to the racism of our times, who sympathizes with the sexually profligate President (lovingly referred to as POTUS).
From Delancey's trip on the Metroliner where it all begins, to a drink-soaked escapade in Key West, to soirees at the Harringtons' and the Cosmos Club, to the grand finale (an uproarious Venetian bal masqué at the Library of Congress), McCourt shows us the pyrotechnic power plays of the nineties, eerily parallel to (but far deadlier than) those portrayed in Adams's chronicle of earlier times. Here is Washington as it should be seen -- upside down, and inside right.


James McCourt is not to be confused with the brothers Frank and Malachy, but he, too, is an Irish American with a literary bent, an overeducated outsider's viewpoint, and a wicked gift for telling tales. Delancey's Way poses this question: Can a gay reporter from East Hampton find happiness in Washington, D.C., ostensibly lobbying on behalf of the imperiled piping plover, but mostly just crashing parties with socialite Anastasia "Bam-Bam" Harrington? (She sounds more than a bit like Arianna Huffington--unsurprising, as the book is a rather twisted roman à clef.) Instead of happiness, Delancey finds countless opportunities to comment on matters of state in the manner of Joan Rivers at the Oscars, mocking Clinton ("an outstanding chess entertainer, triumphing in blindfold games and simultaneous exhibitions"), senators ("our august lawmakers ... scurry around the Senate floor, the groups forming and reforming like amoebas in heat"), and absolutely everything that falls into his literary gun sights.

Though there is a plot buried deep between the bitchy lines--culminating in the deck "Senator weds former page in gay May-December sensation"--the real point of McCourt's fourth work of fiction is nonstop intellectual vaudeville and essayistic digressions as politically incorrect as anything in Pynchon. Delancey's capital gang lives to swap wisecracks, and as they try to one-up each other's recondite witticisms, it's tough to distinguish Odette O'Doyle, a transvestite ballerina, from Rain, the phone-sex entrepreneur specializing in acts of Congress, or Vana Sprezza, the Italian opera diva, from the outrageously jive-talking Ornette James Crow. Like sock puppets manipulated by a madcap polymath, the queens hold court, razzing the powerful in relentless repartee.

And if you don't happen to be a madcap polymath, the jokes may zip over your head. Say someone mentions Thermidor (the reactionary phase of the French Revolution)--expect one joke about The Big Heat and another about lobsters. When it comes to puns in questionable taste, McCourt can resist anything but temptation. --Tim Appelo

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