Nicholas Fonseca
October 03, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Lives of the Circus Animals

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Christopher Bram
genre
Fiction

We gave it an A-

<p ''What a ridiculous life. You do nothing all day, then your mind rages like a burning house for three hours, leaving you exhausted, useless, stupid.'' Thus writes Bram in his eighth novel, a biting comedy of manners about the insecure, pompous, and grueling world of contemporary New York theater. Such pointedly thoughtful observations are peppered throughout this infectious story, which follows 10 days in the (what else?) drama-laden lives of stage hounds — including a cranky second-string Times critic, a pot-smoking Brit theater legend, and his lonely, lovelorn assistant. They infiltrate each other’s lives with a growling intensity tempered by Bram’s dry wit. To his credit, these snappy back-and-forths come across as self-conscious, not self-centered. And that leaves ”Animals” lively, useful, whip-smart.

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