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How about a novel about the gangsters who ran Coney Island, the enchanted land of his childhood? Nah, too much plot to concoct. Perhaps he could update a classic: Tom Sawyer as a Harvard MBA, or Kafka's The Metamorphosis transposed to Manhattan. When these don't pan out, Heller takes a stab at mythology, done in the manner of his old pal Mel Brooks. Here Zeus's wife complains about his flagging ardor:
I try to put myself in Leda's place. It could be kind of thrilling, I guess, being overpowered by a huge male swan, especially after realizing it was Zeus.... I'd like to see him take the trouble to surprise me like that, even once. But that doesn't happen. He won't waste tricks like that on me. He never does, he knows he doesn't have to. When he comes to me it's never with anything new, it's always just the same, always just the same old god.Increasingly desperate, the author tries out titles on his friends, and A Sexual Biography of My Wife stirs some interest. Still, his tentative fictions don't grab you the way the novel's sad, searing reminiscences do. When Heller--I mean, the narrator--has a tearful reunion with his adulterous old flame (who's now stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease), or asks another female acquaintance whether she regrets turning down his long-ago offer of romance, we get a privileged glimpse into the private mind of a very public author. "I want to cap my career with a masterpiece of some kind," the narrator tells his editor. This poignantly discursive book is not a masterpiece, but Joseph Heller did go on trying to the end. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Talk about writer's block. This book parodies that very concept. Eugene Pota, an established writer, now seventy, is trying to write his last great book. The only problem is . . . Read morePublished on February 2, 2013 by Roberto Scarlato
Ah! What a way to go! Joseph Heller's final novel is a comfortable fit, brilliantly conceived and finely executed. Read morePublished on November 26, 2007 by Cecil Bothwell
What people dont notice about this book is that it is a parody of James Joyce's classic, cryptic, boring,(and laborious) masterpiece "A Portrait of the Artist of the Young Man"... Read morePublished on May 25, 2007 by Michael Brenner
As the twilight of his life approaches, Eugene Pota, legendary author, is trying to wrestle one last, great novel out of his head and onto the page. Read morePublished on January 21, 2007 by RCM
Joseph Heller was indecisive about what his final great work should be. He explored many different avenues, but still found himself indecisive. Read morePublished on July 15, 2006 by JMack
This has to be one of the most honest, forthright, and revealing books I have ever read. It should be read by every writer -- and every artist -- to get a glimpse of what might lie... Read morePublished on September 23, 2003 by Aaron Shepard
Eugene Pota (Portrait Of The Artist) is an aging (75-year-old) novelist hoping to produce one more masterpiece to cap his flagging career in this peculiar book from (then) aging... Read morePublished on July 5, 2002 by Dave Deubler
PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST, AS AN OLD MAN (there seems to be some confusion over the title as the hardback reads AN ARTIST, while the paperback and the narrative goes with THE ARTIST)... Read morePublished on June 13, 2002 by Andrew McCaffrey
The final book in the career of Joseph Heller is a fine tale. The protagonists plight is having to live up to past glory. Read morePublished on September 5, 2001 by Anthony Sunclades