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A Perfect Pleasure

By Kathleen Maher, author of Serial Fiction

Nov 28, 2009: Leaving aside for the moment that "Uncle Buddy’s House," offers the most pleasurable and habit-forming dialogue I have ever encountered, the story centers on Buddy Best, a successful director of grade "B" Hollywood movies. His second wife has recently left him for a hilariously affected dramatist and drama teacher, nicknamed, after an especially bad recitation, the Ancient Mariner. Buddy’s house, "the homestead/mance," originally built in 1931 for comedian Joe E. Brown, makes room for Buddy’s grown son, who has found himself suddenly jobless and partnerless; Buddy’s daughter, whom he rescued from a bad boyfriend, and Buddy’s fifteen-year-old step-daughter, Dierdre, the scourge of her Catholic high school. Generous and affable, albeit keenly aware of popular and invented artistic "sensibility," he soon discovers that the "Ancient Mariner’s" daughter—who is no happier than anyone else about her father running off with Buddy’s ex-wife—is not only beautiful but an exceptionally talented actress. The young Cordelia, a bit beaten down by her venture to make it alone in New York, is riddled with a gifted actress’s usual insecurities. Buddy reassures Cordelia and recommends her for for a leading part in a new movie, which she earn on her merits. When she attempts to thank Buddy, however, he discovers that insecure or not, Cordelia is romantically compelling. The two tussle with this complication, consider fulfilling it, draw back to reconsider the situation, only to consider it once again. While he might deny it, Buddy is a happy, funny man, quick to aid those he respects and/or loves, and not unkind to those he finds less engaging. Holding it all together is the remarkable dialogue: It makes this novel a non-stop pleasure. Don’t miss it.

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