Book Review of Acceptable Losses

Acceptable Losses
Acceptable Losses
Author: Irwin Shaw
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Book Type: Paperback
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Irwin Shaw's first novel, "The Young Lions" was a WW2 story (his only real war story, I think) published in 1948 and was made into a very successful movie in 1958. I'm sure I read it sometime in the 50'sand became a fan of his writing then.

When I find an author I like, I end up collecting everything he's written and read the books in the sequence written. Since "Acceptable Losses" was published in 1982, I obviously have been through a lot of his books and have seldom been disappointed.

This paperback copy was printed in 1983, and ended up in my stacks probably late in the 1980's. I bought it at Half-Price Books, and the sticker says it was reduced in price to 98 cents on 11/88 so you can see it took me a while to work my way down to it.

It starts out with an anonymous 3:30am phone caller who threatens Roger Damon's life. Damon spends the next two thirds of the book recalling people who might have a reason to kill him. Shaw uses this device to give us an interesting and fairly comprehensive look at Damon's life story, with a lot of attention paid to his love affairs. When this book was written the term "sex addict" hadn't yet been coined, but Damon, who was quite good looking, certainly got a lot of sex, although Shaw is not one for nearly as much detail as we see from today's authors.

In the last third of the book, the mysterious caller does get a shot at him, but nothing turns out quite the way I suspected it would. I won't spoil the story for you, but the last third of the book is exceptionally strong. Even after 34 years of writing, during which Shaw produced countless novels, short stories, and plays, he still knew how to get the job done. I thought this was a 3 star effort, but the last third bumps it up to 4. For anyone wanting to sample one of the most prolific writers of the last half-century, this wouldn't be a bad place to start.