From Publishers Weekly
Blumenthal (What's Wrong with Dorfman?
) keeps the energy high, the expectations low and the yuks coming fast in this funny but strangely static novel. Plato G. Fussell is a neurotic, self-made millionaire working on a 10-volume biography of President Millard Fillmore. Painfully awkward around women and prone to embarrassing verbal gaffes, Fussell also doesn't believe in love. And what happens to people who don't believe in love? They fall head over heels, of course. Insert a raven-haired beauty with the same penchant for hypochondria as Plato, and we have a match. The problem is, she's the recently estranged spouse of Fussell's psychiatrist, Dr. Wang. For a while, it's fun to watch Fussell play his shrink like a fiddle, searching for information, but Blumenthal drags this plot out past its life span. Smartly, he brings in other diversions: the twilight-time escapades of Fussell's mother, a bowel-obsessed harpy, and his father, a bore who turns out to be anything but, prove to be cunning distractions—but only for so long. Blumenthal is excellent at keeping several plots going at once but the most important one peters out, only to be resurrected, sort of, by a surprising but artificial ending, a resounding thud at the end of a book that, for the most part, kept the proceedings pleasurably light and snappy.
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At the very thought of talking to women, anxiety-ridden, death-obsessed, insecure, indecisive Plato Fussell falls into wordplay, spontaneously speaking in spoonerisms and reversing the letters of words. His tall, handsome, successful appearance masks an inner short, myopic "Superdork" with ill-fitting clothes and braces. Add to that his favorite conversational ploy--forgotten American presidents, especially Millard Fillmore--and he makes the young Woody Allen seem a confident babe magnet. At his psychiatrist's annual doctor-patient picnic in Van Nuys, a purple Frisbee thrown by a stunning young woman conks him, and before you can say "Isabella" (his dog's name) and "Ferdinand" (her dog's name), he's smitten and winds up bedding her--regularly. But she's the shrink's wife. Subsequent complications in Blumenthal's engagingly written comic romance include Plato's dealings with ex-wife Daisy, who cheated him out of a fortune she claims, after having lost almost a million at Vegas crap tables, to have given mostly to charity. Loopy humor keeps things entertaining in this tale that screams to be filmed. Whitney ScottCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved