Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Third Party by Jay McInerney

“Third Party” by Jay McInerney, Dangerous Women Edited by Otto Penzler, Mysterious Press, Trade Paperback, $13.95

Alex presents himself as a tragic figure. He likes the image. He even moved to Paris because he thought the ambiance better supported the tragic look. He even tells the maitre’d at the place he goes for dinner that he is expecting someone to join him so he will get a more central table and thus be the object of curiosity and perhaps pity of all the other diners as he eats alone at a table for four.

But this time he is joined by Tasha and Frederic, people he’s never seen before that act as if they know him. He plays along to see where it goes.

Where it goes is an intense night of partying though the Paris clubs. Tasha can’t seem to decide whether she wants to make out with Alex or stick with Frederic, doing tongue massages on both. Finally things come to a head, so to speak, with Tasha and Alex in the back seat of Frederic’s car – while Frederic is driving. What happens next could have hurt an awful lot.

I guess I could give Mr. McInerney one star for a mildly interesting character study of a putz, a poseur with no apparent redeeming value to society. Unfortunately the guy is so unlikable, I can’t even bring myself to do that. Main characters, no matter how unlikable, should have at least one decent characteristic to give the audience something to hang on to, like loyalty or the fact that he likes animals. As near as I can tell, Alex has no positive qualities.

The plot of the story seems to be, will Alex get laid or get hurt? I didn’t care much one way or the other. Tasha apparently likes the taste of blood, though there are no supernatural aspects to this story. Other than Alex’s tragic posing and the bullshit philosophy in the last sentence, there’s not a lot to this story. Which, after rereading the sentence before this one, means there’s not a lot to this story.

In short, don’t bother reading this one.