Picks and Pans Review: Works of Genius

updated 07/20/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/20/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Richard Marek

It's interesting that Marek, a well-known New York literary figure (now president of E.R Dutton and once Robert Ludlum's editor), chose to make the villain of his first novel a writer. And Eric Meredith is not just a bad guy, he's a monster. This is the story of Meredith's rise from young man with a failed first novel to literary giant. It is told by his agent, one of Meredith's innocent victims, whose life, and that of his young wife, becomes totally absorbed by the "genius." Considering Marek's background, there is a surprising absence of the sort of gritty detail that would make this story believable. There is a lot of sex, and an accurate assessment of how one's importance in the New York literary world is defined by the restaurants where one eats. But for the most part Eric, a sort of bigger-than-life Wolfe-Hemingway figure, simply mistreats his wife and son and editor and agent—all for the sake of creating marvelous novels that become best-sellers and make everyone rich. There is a lot of interesting stuff going on in publishing these days. The big corporations are getting bigger, buying out all the little guys, and spending bushels of money on rotten potential best-sellers. Marek, who must know just about everything there is to know about the book business today, apparently wasn't up to writing about that, however. He chose instead to make Works of Genius a slight, greatly simplified, romantic and innocuous tale. (Atheneum, $16.95)

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