If the film version of IN A LONELY PLACE was crafted as a tragic love story, one can never feel the novel was meant to be that. The romance in the novel serves mostly to titillate the psychopathological tendencies of our protagonist, Dix Steele. He is a narcissist incapable of love for anyone but himself. Full of self-pity, and guilty of so many other sins, the book opens with a series of stranglings going on in LA. Dix, a pretend novelist living at the home of a missing friend, was a heroic figure in the war and reconnects with an old army buddy, Brub who is now a cop and newly married. Then he meets Laurel, a neighbor. Their romance if it can be called that is filled with tense situations. This may be one of the tensest books I have ever read. And the resolution is one no man would ever pen.
I have to say that many of Dix's traits reminded me of our current leader: self-pity, the need to seek revenge, extreme narcissism, the ability to only see his side of an argument. And certainly the presence of women brings out the worst in him. This was a terrific novel if you can tolerate an unlikable protagonist. You want to feel some sympathy for him but never can muster up a drop.
The afterword in this new edition by NYRB is by Megan. Rest, Megan, rest.
For more reviews, see Barrie Summy.