Hailey’s Wheels is flat.

In Airport, novelist Arthur Hailey used a single fictional airport to put in the infrastructure needs of American’s airports in human perspective. In Wheels he attempts to tell the behind-the-scenes story of the entire auto industry. He can’t squeeze it all into an average-length novel. Wheels has three main stories: The marriage of Adam Trenton, […]

The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight is a comic novel about unfunny topics such as murder written by an angry man. Author Jimmy Breslin, a brash New York Daily News columnist, invents a gang war between a Mafia don “Papa Baccala” and malcontents who want to get a bigger share of the proceeds: 100 percent […]

Reread: A Daughter of the Land

As a rule, I don’t find much to like about Gene Stratton-Porter’s novels, but her 1918 bestseller, A Daughter of the Land, is head and shoulders above the rest. It’s one of the novels on my must-read-again list. Kate Bates, the daughter of the land, wants an share of her father’s property equal to that […]

Love on the Dole: Doleful view of past and future

Walter Greenwood’s Love on the Dole is a bleak novel set in in industrial England in the years between the First and Second World Wars. The technological expertise that had made wholesale slaughter possible in 1914 is being directed toward making wholesale poverty possible in 1934. Harry Hardman, 14, is through with school. Scorning his […]

Naked Came the Stranger: It’s not pretty.

Let’s get right to the point. Penelope Ashe’s novel Naked Came the Stranger is trash. As story opens Gillian Blake, co-host of radio show Billy & Gilly, has just learned via the services of Ace-High Private Investigators, Inc., that Billy is having an affair with the show’s recently hired assistant producer. Gilly is incensed. It […]

Portnoy’s Complaint: Sophomoric, salacious, and insightful

Alexander Portnoy, Assistant Human Opportunity Commissioner for New York City, is a psychological mess, and it’s all his parent’s fault. At least that’s what he tells his psychiatrist, Dr. Spielvogel, in Philip Roth’s aptly named Portnoy’s Complaint. Alex suffers from stereotypes. He’s the brilliant and personable only son of a New Jersey Jewish couple. Alex’s […]