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FICTION : THE BIG BED by John Krich (McGraw-Hill: $14.95; 355 pp.).

November 16, 1986|Michael J. Carroll

Martin Pepper, Berkeley film critic, suffers from terminal Angst. No word from his publisher, no woman to love him, his comrades-in-protest of the '60s gone their separate ways to yuppiedom, madness and post-hippie transcendentalism, only his loyal readers interested in him or his opinions.

In turgid prose, Pepper tells his story. He leads us through the single day of an abortive reunion, moments of which are interspiced with character-defining flashbacks--thinly disguised essays on the foibles of the '60s, telling us what most of us realized a long time ago: that the rebels of the '60s were pretty much as shallow and hypocritical and sexual and sexist as anyone else.

"The Big Bed," is filled with "Pepperisms" straining for significance ("Success: doing unto others what never should have been done in the first place") and oh-so-cute turns-of-phrase ("This city must be under some terrible stress, since even the sidewalks are cracking up"). Pepper's observations are shallow, judgmental and irrelevant. No wonder his friends have looked elsewhere for support and insight.

Unfortunately, the book is not about personal growth; it is narcissistic self-pity, dated observations, and little story, unredeemed by a contrived happy ending most readers will never get to.

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