Not laugh out loud, elbow in the ribs funny, but very amusing. Hollywood could have a hit making this into a movie. The overarching question of the book, "Is the First Lady pregnant?" is, as Hitchcock would put it, a McGuffin. Read this book and any reference to x-rated topiary, 3/4rds stockings, and left-handed dentists will have you grinning.
A Small Comedic Masterpiece
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 17 years ago
This novel is a comedic delight. "Floater" is the writing job at a fictional news magazine held by the book's central character Fred Becker. (It's also a job Trillin once held in his pre-New Yorker days.) A "floater" does not have a permanent assignment, but moves from one section of the magazine to another as illness or other reason creates a temporary need. The story takes place over one week in the life of the magazine, and finds Becker wrestling with an intriguing news tip, that, if true, could lead to a significant change in his life.Trillin's gift for illuminating the absurdities of life really shine here. The plot, while entertaining, takes a back seat to the stable of realistic characters that just about anyone who has spent time in an office will recognize--the glad-handler, the martyr, the hypochondriac, the guy you want to avoid going to lunch with, the champion of political correctness, and others. It's a puzzle to me that this hilarious book has been allowed to go out of print. Though I've been a fan of Trillin for some time, I have to given thanks to Sara Nelson and her recent book, "So Many Books, So Little Time," for calling my attention to this forgotten gem.--William C. Hall
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 21 years ago
This book from 1980 is startlingly fresh. If we adjust the dollar amounts for book contracts to today's values, and concede that one character might have started the SUV craze, it is absolutely contemporary.The book's insistence on Manhattan Island as the center of the universe would be annoying to non-New Yorkers. This is unfortunate, since the characters are mostly from outside Manhattan (as is the author) and their interaction doesn't depend at all on their location.If the reader is able to deal with the Manhattan smugness, he will be amply rewarded with a plot and a cast of characters as perfectly drawn as any by Eric Ambler, in addition to a sly sense of humor which builds imperceptibly to a perfectly hilarious conclusion.Trillin almost could have dispensed altogether with his lovely plot, as his characters could carry most novels all by themselves. In addition to being a just-about-perfect exposition of the writer's craft, this book is also laugh-out-loud funny, literally.
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