man and boy: a novel
by tony parsons
The theme of this alternately wry and maudlin debut from London writer Parsons "love means knowing when to let go" won't make Love Story's mantra obsolete, but this novel shimmers with a sentimentality that could appeal widely to those who enjoyed Segal's romance classic and to their progeny. On the eve of his 30th birthday, Harry Silver blows everything by indulging in a one-night stand with a young assistant on the English TV talk show he produces. When Harry's wife, Gina, discovers his adultery, she jets off immediately to pursue job opportunities in Japan, leaving Harry in temporary custody of their adorable four-year-old son, Pat. Parsons captures the free-floating angst of a man who senses his horizons constricting and the panic of a suddenly single father confronting the issues of child care. Harry's misery is compounded by the subsequent loss of his job; his conviction that he's failed his own loving father, a WWII war hero; and the reluctance of the new woman in his life, an American waitress, to commit emotionally to him. Parsons knows how to pace his pages turn as if in a high wind and he has a flair for pushing emotional buttons, perhaps particularly those of men on the far side of 30 or singledom. Many readers will love this novel; others will decry its obvious calculation, but most will agree that Parson deals in a highly entertaining manner with personal issues of import and that, more often than not, he tells it very true. (Apr.) Forecast: This novel has ridden English bestseller lists for about half a year, with 500,000 copies sold in the U.K. alone. Will it duplicate that success here? It might. Parsons is a media celebrity in England, and British audiences familiar with or curious about his personal life (he received custody of his son after a divorce, and his father was a war hero) boosted sales there. But Sourcebooks is going all out with this title which launches its fiction imprint, Sourcebooks Landmark with a 50,000 first printing and three national tours in 20 cities, as well as 10,000 companion discussion guides. The book is also a Literary Guild Featured Alternate. Most importantly, it's the kind of novel that can soar on good word of mouth which it's going to get, and a lot of it.