Three Dogs With a Spoiler

Coward. McCann&Geoghegan, 252pp..$6.95

IF Joe FLAHERTY had managed Mailer's mayoralty race as well as he manager words, New York might have reeled right into the Hudson Bay. But Mailer's ex-campaign manager has compensated with a novel of comparable effect Guaranteed to unravel every thread in the critical web to unravel some mind and to get on your nerves. Fogarty & Co. a book to contend with Blustering, swaggering, clever, and thoroughly out of taste, it is steeped to the point of pickled in 1972 However much you may despise it you can't help but like it. And like the year, you can't put it down for a minute. But as I doubt I'll want to relive '72 in '73, '74 or '75. I probably won't want to reread Fogarty either.

Fogarty & Co. is a sort of On the Road in the life of a kook. The narrative spans a three day bum weekend and interlude to a life that is itself something of a bum weekend. Fogarty, an Irish Catholic no account from Brooklyn is everything from a small time swashbuckler the's a deckhand on a tugboat) to a cult figure among the Radical chic He's also a dollmaker whose work even the Times has stopped to review. I Fogarty hates priests, quarrels with an incomplete slob of a white and lives with a Manhattan bound groupte cum socialite Generally boisterous and malcontent Fogarty has only two bright sports amidst the soiled sheets and barroom props that upholster his life his son and his sex. His relationship to these the sole objects his reserence, is the main drift of the stors.

ESPECIALLY THE SEX As well as outrageously good entertainment, the novel is a fairly subtle exploration of masculine sexuality with an unorthodox twist. "Fogarty perceives the feminine as the random changing the coming and going and the male as the eternal constant. Needless to say. Fogarty has little use for feminism. Without understanding the universal self deception of sexism in women as well as in men, he thinks women have consciously willed their own exploitation. (The short sightedness night will be the author's as much as the protagonist.

Fogarty's weekend is a thwarted odyssey in introspection, a three day jaunt over the scenario of his past. Nothing is resolved but the motions of so doing are executed as rigorously as Fogarty's basic randomness permits. After the requisite one night stand (the lady's a widow, aging and fat; the seduction is crummy lousy and cheap; and the whole situation is regretably funny) Fogarty drops in on his old Brooklyn baunts the baseball diamond, the local church--the confessional--the bar, and to an. He eventually takes his son to Coney Island and makes a mess of it by turning ride into a puberty rise that neither can stomach. The result is a traumatized child and a vomiting father Fogarty finishes off the weekend playing Monopoly and slugging gin on the sly at the local AA chapter, and finally pursuing what he thinks is the White While in a rowboat on the Central Park lagoon," "It made little difference when the thing barked," the story ends, "Fogarty was back in action."

ODDLY, YOU WANT TO read more, despite the fact that by now you've had, or should have, quite enough of this Fogarty. He is obnoxious, a coward, and an addicted milk spoiler. He can't help but undermine whatever comes his way, from an old widow's memories to marriages to meetings political and/or alcoholic. Nothing is sacred Everything is there for a pot shots, including himself. And yet somehow, despite all his crumminess. Fogarty somehow emerges as a likeable creation. If nothing else he is an excellent vehicle for the author's pot shots at the political and cultural facts of the past decade.

BUT WHAT REALLY makes Fogarty, and consequently the novel is the writing. Perfectly pitched to the man it describes, it matches his every antic with page after page of verbal histrionics. One imagines writing with a harmonica in his mouth and a ball horn plugged into his typewriter. The novel bounces, gyrates and bucks like another coaster car along the precarious edge of the reader's tolerance, never quite falling off. For whenever the author leans too far in the direction of obscenity-which is frequently--he bounces right back with a metaphor or reference to feed any appetite Jackie Kennedy and James Joyce. Cyrano de Bergerac and the Berrigan Brothers. While Mays and Richard Wagner all raise their heads at one point of another in the parenthetical Who's Who that attends this narrative.

Overloaded Absolutely But that, or nothing, in the charm of this novel It's very much like good rococo whose only tea failure is that the style is not wholly original. For first there was the Baroque, or in this case. Norman Mailer--not a meaningless consideration in view of the political partnership. Now that the partnership has turned literary, the question to ask is how long will it last before it becomes a matter of rivalry, if not succession. But no doubt Mr. Flaherty is capable of making such Oedipal observations himself.