Picks and Pans Review: Something to Be Desired

UPDATED 11/26/1984 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 11/26/1984 at 01:00 AM EST

by Thomas McGuane

Full of acute observation and careful, prickly prose, this novel, by the author of Ninety-Two in the Shade and Panama, is a constant pleasure. Its protagonist, Lucien Taylor, is obsessed by a woman named Emily who loved him but married a wealthy surgeon. Taylor marries another woman, joins the foreign service and has a son. After he hears that Emily has killed her husband, Taylor returns to Montana and bails her out of jail. Then she disappears. Since she had signed over her ranch to him, he finds himself with land and a hot spring, which he decides might make a tourist attraction. McGuane's language is original, often funny, sometimes brilliant. He has an old ranch hand say, just before he passes out dead drunk, "Hundred-proof whiskey is a cowboy's color TV." Something to Be Desireds romantic, saved from sentiment by McGuane's wit. (Random House, $14.95)

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