BOOKS: PAPA WAS A GAZILLIONAIRE

MONA SIMPSON CUTS A HIGH-TECH TYCOON TO SIZE

It's hard to write a novel about a great man, that larger-than-life figure who bestrides the story and manipulates action. The certitude of Dickens or Tolstoy, who peopled their worlds like gods, is denied to 20th century writers who must cope with ironies and layers of deconstruction (one strategy is to distance the reader from the hero and keep him a mystery, as F. Scott Fitzgerald did in The Great Gatsby). So pity Mona Simpson, a talented young novelist (Anywhere but Here) whose new book, A Regular Guy (Knopf; 372 pages; $25), begins with this sentence: "He was a man too...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!