Picks and Pans Review: Hot Properties

updated 08/18/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/18/1986 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Rafael Yglesias

The fast lane must be a jam-packed place these days, if the number of novels about its inhabitants is any indication. In this one the burning question is what becomes of an average Yo-Pro when celebrity comes to call? Yglesias' book has as many responses as he has characters, and the result is a slick, sometimes poignant, often funny glimpse through the glitz of the film, media and book publishing worlds. There's Fred the loser, an unpublished novelist who has to plot to "get lucky" with his wife. David, a writer at News-time (a thinly veiled version of Newsweek, where the author's wife once worked), starts finking on his buddies in his scramble toward the top. Tony is the son of a famous Hollywood movie star, trying to become a screenwriter without losing his playwright's integrity. Patty lives with David and is writing a romance novel that Tony's wife, Betty, an editor, is helping her publish. Gelb, the repulsive ex-boss with whom Patty is inexplicably having an affair, has a hand in the book too. This fourth novel from Yglesias, a cut above Jacqueline Susann-style pulp fiction, is saved by its quiet cynicism from being just empty calories. It's more the literary equivalent of a sprouted wheat doughnut. The characters actually develop; they do the unexpected, they act with the arbitrariness of real people. David, with every apparent avenue to success open to him, becomes obsessed with a dominatrix. Patty gives up her formula romance for a serious novel "peopled only by ordinary humans with incomes under six figures, and with a heroine who had been laid." Fred publishes a book and is suddenly "befriended with a vengeance" by the guys. He wins at the poker game, is invited to Elaine's and sometimes scores with his wife: "Fate tossed him a series of slow, glamorous pitches right into an infallible mitt. It was as though he had merged into celluloid. After a lifetime of watching he was up there playing the scene." The book is enjoyable enough that Yglesias, 32, son of writers Helen and Jose Yglesias, may soon be enjoying the very fame he's lampooning. (Dutton, $16.95)

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