Picks and Pans Review: Biodegradable Soap

updated 07/01/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/01/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Amy Ephron

Hollywood agent's wife becomes obsessed with the environment. Agent leaves said boring wife and becomes involved with selfish-but-beautiful movie star. After a couple of minor mishaps (including a subplot about another Hollywood wife's affair with a personal trainer), agent sees error of his ways, returns to wife. All live happily every after.

If you think this slim volume by the author of Bruised Fruit and Cool Shades is going to be a novel, you'll be disappointed. Its characters are stick figures; its plot couldn't be more telegraphed if it came by Western Union.

But then Ephron—ex-Columbia Pictures vice president of production and the sister of film writer Nora Ephron—must have first intended this as a movie treatment. So if it's sketchy and obvious, at least you can distract yourself by trying to guess which stars she'd envisioned in the roles.

Ephron clearly does have some insights into these Hollywood types, and she occasionally makes a mildly ironic observation: "He didn't understand win it was his curse to he surrounded by women who cared more about causes than anything else. That was what he liked about Lara—she was completely self-obsessed."

Most of the jokes are sitcom filler, though, like the riff about how every L.A. waiter is an actor, every clown a would-be producer. Even the newer material—the jabs at trendy interest in the environment—can't save this book, which reads like a poor imitation of Steve Martin's already thin L.A. Story. (Houghton Mifflin, $18.95)

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