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Karoo
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Early in this hilarious novel, readers will be laughing out loud, but Tesich is ultimately quite serious about reminding us that moments or years of "unlove" can never be set right. Wisecracking narrator Saul Karoo, a Hollywood script doctor living in New York, is a heavy drinker and smoker, a hypochondriac who refuses to get health insurance because he "no longer has his health." In the novel's opening scene, Karoo spends the last Christmas party of the 1980s wondering how he can avoid taking his adopted, college-age son, Billy, home with him that night (he succeeds, after a fashion, by taking home a sloshed young woman instead). Billy's goal is to connect with his father, but Karoo evades intimacy on every level as steadfastly as he ducks the truth: he lies constantly, yet his first-person narrative reveals an entertaining man at once sensitive and indifferent. Haunted by the harm he's done, he longs to reform but seems incapable of playing the game straight. Meanwhile, Machiavellian superproducer Jay Cromwell (who makes Karoo look like a "moral force of his time") sends him an unreleased film by venerable director Arthur Houseman. Karoo recognizes that the film is a masterpiece, but Cromwell wants him to restructure it‘a process that has in the past led to one screenwriter's suicide. Karoo refuses the Houseman film until the cassette leads him to Billy's biological mother and he suddenly thinks he sees a way to make everyone happy. Tesich (Summer Crossing, and many screenplays, including Academy Award-winning Breaking Away) knew New York and Hollywood well. The movie-making scenes here are classic. Even though the end of this posthumously published novel doesn't live up to the humor and poignancy of the rest, Tesich's memorable characters, particularly Karoo, will endure. (Mar.)

In his second novel (after Summer Crossing, LJ 10/1/82), the late screenwriter creates a memorable monster in the titular Karoo, a genius hack and aging Manhattan-bound script and film doctor who's filtering his life through as many bad habits as possible as a means of avoiding contact with humanity, which includes his wife and grown son. The guy's a bastard, but he's also what lesser lights would call a life riot: smart, mean, charming, awful, and as fascinating as the novel spinning around him. Tesich's writing is, as usual, enticing, sharp, and observant (if a tad too literary‘watch out for all the Ulysses stuff). Not to be missed. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/15/97.]‘David Bartholomew, NYPL

"Tesich creates a memorable monster.... His writing is, as usual, enticing, sharp, and observant....Not to be missed."

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