Actor Bogosian (Mall) takes the "opposites attract" conceit to an extreme in a well-crafted novel that's also a vicarious walk on the wild side. Before he crashes two very different ends of the social spectrum together, though, Bogosian develops each one separately, cultivating suspense: how will these characters come together? In one corner is Reba, a 20-year-old upstate New York farm girl who, along with her nasty brother, Billy, sells apples to Manhattanites on weekends. In a breathless series of events, she becomes separated from Billy and is spotted by a fashion photographer who turns her into a supermodel. In the other corner is Rick, a middle-aged Jewish doctor living in the suburbs with his family. While he likes his life, he's also chafing under certain domestic constraints. It's up to Billy to make them collide by hurtling off the deep end after losing his sister; he ends up in the emergency room, and Rick sends him to the psych ward. The model and the physician eventually begin a torrid, May/December romance that drives the latter toward divorce and the former into addiction. It's a great guilty pleasure of a story line (brainy schlump meets gorgeous goddess), and Bogosian fills it with fresh, frank turns of phrase—the frazzled doctor's eyes are "like slit-open gray prunes"—even if the ending feels a little too sanitized for the gritty story that preceded it. Agent, William Morris. (May)
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It has been 20 years since authors Jay McInerney and Bret Easton Ellis created a literary zeitgeist with their novels about the go-go 1980s, especially McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City (1984), which captured beautifully the excesses and despair of Manhattan's night life. How tempting for writers who missed the party to want to try their hand. Enter Bogosian. His novel features Reba Cook, a 19-year-old hick from upstate New York who is orphaned and left with only her immaculate beauty. While in New York City, she's discovered and immediately lands a modeling contract. For Reba it's all sex, drugs, and bankroll from here on out. Problem is, she finds hobnobbing with the rich and soulless a bummer. Luckily, she meets Rick, a middle-aged doctor with his own practice and a family. Rick's problem is that he's trapped in the "successful" life he painstakingly created. Together he and Reba form a meaningful connection. Although Bogosian is a skillful writer, his points feel cliched (living superficially invites suffering--no headlines there), and his characters sometimes seem like retreads from other novels. Ultimately, although he brings back gossip about the party, Bogosian reveals that it's still just the same old scene. Expect demand based on his name. Jerry Eberle
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