Picks and Pans Review: Hard Money

UPDATED 07/29/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 07/29/1985 at 01:00 AM EDT

by Michael M. Thomas

Here is a novel about the evils of big business that's just the thing for readers who think that America has gone to the dogs. The narrator is a curmudgeon from an exceedingly snobbish background who scorns the rich and the haughty. He is summoned by a wealthy old man, who dislikes the way television has trivialized everything in America and made it possible for an ex-TV newsman (named Eldon Erwitt) to become President. The old man wants a witness to his move to reclaim the television network empire he created. The characters say things such as, "The main point of education was to be able to tell when someone else was talking rubbish," or "Ninety percent of makin' money is keepin' the public in the dark." The government, in this novel, is in total collusion with business. The rich have nothing to fear from antitrust laws or the FCC. The book's language is choked with stilted wordplay: The narrator describes a couple at one party as "standard-issue Eurotrash but very, very rich" and puts down the literary scene by calling a hot novel "the latest delicate howl by Renata Didion or Nora Steinem." Details about how the rich live—what paintings and clothes they buy, their houses, their parties, wines and foods—punctuate every page. Since the main plot deals with how a corporation gets taken over, Hard Money has the appearance of being very trendy, but the tone is unrelievedly sour. The novel seems to have been written to allow Thomas to say nasty things about how McEnroe behaves on the tennis court, how puerile most television is, how—oh, horrors!—the bottom line is the only thing that counts today. Such targets are too familiar, and much, much too easy. (Viking, $17.95)

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