Picks and Pans Review: Love Always

updated 06/24/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/24/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Ann Beattie

At the center of this perceptive, entertaining novel is a woman named Lucy who writes a lovelorn column for a chic Vermont magazine called Country Daze. "Lucy herself," the reader is told, "admitted to a morbid fascination with being facile." In fact, everyone in this book is facile. Many of the characters are refugees from a "town where every waitress was an actress, every cab driver a philosopher, where the construction workers were doing field work for their Ph.D.s in psychology and the hospital orderly sang opera." It just might be New York. Lucy's oldest and dearest friend is the publisher-editor of Country Daze, and they are having an affair. Lucy's niece is the 14-year-old star of a soap opera, and she comes to spend the summer in Vermont with her aunt. We meet a female newspaper reporter who sleeps around; a photographer who gets into trouble with the police for taking off his clothes in front of the 14-year-old girl; a Hollywood agent whose blood pressure must be at least 250—even when he's asleep; a failed novelist who has delusions of being F. Scott Fitzgerald; a killer dog named St. Francis. There's some trendy dope smoking, a bizarre accident and other foolishness, But Beattie's spectacular ability to cite the revealing detail again and again gives even the wildest events an air of verisimilitude. Love Always is an ironic and probably accurate picture of many lives today: superficial, loveless, brittle, pointless—but somehow alluring and fascinating. Beattie provides a perfect marriage of subject and style. (Random House, $16.95)

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