It tells the story of the last performances of Simon Axler, a celebrated stage actor. I need to test this, but I do think that if I sat down with the Zuckerman novels again, for example, that I would still admire a great many things about his work.
The great, beautiful propellers were still, all four of them. He is a saint, clearly. Surely there are other writers around, and capable ones too, who have not taken the particular roads that these two have; however, even with some of these others, I wonder if we may not be witnessing a response to the times, perhaps not so dramatic as in Salinger and Malamud, but a response nevertheless.
Why is it, in fact, that so many of our fictional heroes—not just the heroes of Wouk and Weidman, but of Bellow, Gold, Styron, and others—wind up affirming life? Nor would I resemble myself. Now I feel, and this is certainly a personal opinion, that I am right.
Throughout most of the book he is taunted and tempted and disgraced by Mason Flagg, a fellow countryman, rich, boyish, naive, licentious, indecent, and finally, cruel and stupid.