PRINT August 1962

B. H. Friedman’s Circles

B. H. Friedman, Circles (New York: Fleet Publishing Co.), 1962. 159 pp.

ONE OF THE GREAT MISFORTUNES of the novel as an art form is that almost everyone is convinced he can write one. Having written a book about Robert Goodnough, and a few articles for some of the more prominent art magazines, B. H. Friedman, following the trend, has now written “a novel about it all.” The “all” in this case is the art world, and Mr. Friedman, having doubtless read many a novel to get the hang of it, has made sure to include all the sure-fire elements: an interesting setting, genuinely contemporary people, symbolism and psychology.

The action of the novel takes place in East Hampton, Long Island and on 57th Street in New York City—the interesting setting.

The characters are Henry Lobelle, big-time art dealer; Spike Ross, an artist who paints with a machine gun, and Amy Todd, a widow torn between the vitality of the machine-gun artist and the less demanding conservatism of the big-time art dealer—genuinely contemporary people.

At the end of the book Spike starts a fight in Lobelle’s art gallery and knocks over a marble Bird in Space by Brancusi, which shatters into a million pieces—symbolism.

Spike, direct and without guile, cannot fully enjoy Amy’s dalliance; Lobelle, jaded and enchanted by nuance, dotes on it—that’s the psychology. This will have to do, until Alfred Barr decides to write a novel about it all.

Philip Leider