Off-screen drama


Steve Tesich <em>Vintage, 416pp, £7.99</em>

ISBN 0099777916

Saul Karoo is a professional movie doctor, famed for his ability to "fix" any script. But when it comes to solving the problems of his own troubled life, Karoo is not so well-equipped.

As a self-confessed liar, who says he has renounced truth for its incapacity to reveal the human condition, Karoo finds himself in a contorted sense of reality, both comic and tragic. He is an alcoholic who just can't seem to get drunk, but not wanting to disappoint those around him, lives up to his inebriated image. Meanwhile, separated from a wife he no longer loves, Karoo laments the advantages of even an unhappy marriage. It is not for his wife, but for a home from which to flee that he pines.

What Karoo battles with most, however, is opening up to his son Billy, whom he loves, but will never spend any time alone with. Through these paradoxical relationships, Karoo's inner conflicts unfold. But an offer to rewrite a legendary director’s screenplay sets Karoo on a new, life-changing trajectory.

Although it is clear that Karoo is doomed to self-destruct from the very beginning, his journey is compelling. Tesich flits with punchy ease between irony and pathos, making it difficult to resist entering Karoo's world.