Picks and Pans Review: Yesterday's Children

updated 12/17/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/17/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Brett Halsey

It's clear why Halsey remains better known as a soap opera actor and star of the 1959 movie The Return of the Fly than a novelist.

Yesterday's Children, his second book, is one of those novels where no noun goes unaccompanied by fewer than two adjectives. They are not just breasts; they are small, firm breasts except on those occasions when they are round, firm breasts. It is not just a body; it is a long, lean body. It is not just hair; it's short, layered, glossy, black hair. They are not just eyes; they are...well, you get the idea.

The drama centers on actor Jamie Star-buck, who has salt-and-pepper hair on his chest, a roving eye, heavy alimony payments and a wife in need of expensive dental work. A former leading man, Jamie is finding desirable roles few and far between despite his fiat, hard muscles.

That's why he ends up playing a college administrator on the moribund daytime drama Yesterday's Children, whose cast includes Annie Holland (she's having a sadomasochistic affair with the show's unit manager), Liz Barrett (the show's matriarch) and Leigh Fisk (the soap's ingenue, with "patrician nose"). Unsurprisingly, the novel's plot is as convoluted as that of the average soap. Will Liz manage to change the sexual orientation of her accompanist? Will Leigh lose her virginity to Jamie? Will Jamie be able to pay his wife's dental bills?

Alas, the book also sounds like a soap. Leigh: "Do you feel anything for me?" Jamie (turning, putting his arm around her): "Anything?" (looking into her eyes). "More than just anything. A lot more." Leigh: "A lot more?" Jamie: "A whole lot more" (covering her mouth with his).

Yesterday's Children is today's tedium. (Knightsbridge. $19.95)

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