Please Write For Details

Please Write For Details is a wacky Chevy Chase type comedic interlude at an art school in Cuernavaca, Mexico, a town which came to be known years later fir its language schools. With a large ensemble cast, each with their own backstory, MacDonald fills the novel with offbeat characters as well as a half-baked scheme to run an art school on the cheap with the most untalented hotel staff in history.

Miles Drummond, the lead character, is a slight, nervous man at the end of his money when Gloria Garvey, a wealthy three-time divorcee and expatriate, decides on a scheme for Drummond’s salvation: placing ads for an art school at a long-dilipadated hotel. Gloria is a hive of activity, but setting Drummond up with this is an extracurricular activity for her and she is just laying the groundwork, not doing the work. Drummond himself is barely up to the task, and truth be told, barely up to any task. His hires for the staff are ripping him off, do not intend to do much work, one of them (Fidelio) drives the VW microbus like a madman, and it goes on from there until one of the staff members is caught in a hotel room ripping off the customer, who doesn’t quite notice him at first under her bed because she is too busy pulling cactus spikes out of her enormous buttocks.

The two artists in residence are Gambel Torrigan and Agnes Partridge Keeley, neither of whom can stand each other and are both shocked to find that they are the full staff.

The students number thirteen and include Paul Klass, a shopowner who famously maintains a journal listing his conquests and rating them. He hopes to add to his list, but finds that he is no longer the hunter, but the hunted. There is John Kemp, a successful architect, whose business relationship with his partner is falling apart because out of the blue his partner’s wife has declared her undying love for him. It makes for an awkward business partnership. Monica Killdeering from a small Kansas town has the most perfect body measurements in human history, but fate left her with a face that even a donkey wouldn’t be proud of. Her emotional relationships throughout life have not been too successful. She is though large and strong and teaches physical education. The Wahls are a honeymooning couple who can’t keep their hands off each other long enough to eat a bite. Parker Barnum was a successful man till he had a brief affair that his wife chose not to forgive. Now he is lost and has taken a six-month leave of absence from work trying to find himself and finding instead may different versions of himself. There are the two middle-aged spinsters, who have identical personalities. Mary Jane and Bitsy are twenty-year-old Texans driving through Mexico with a pint of tequila being passed between them. They are dressed in short shorts and halter tops and are out to party. Rounding it out is Barbara Kilmer, whose father sent her on this trip to help her get over her husband’s death. He was crushed by a tractor (like another spouse in an earlier MacDonald novel). Rounding out the group is the Colonel, who is dedicated to painting pictures of battlefields without the soldiers in it and Harvey Ardos.

The story is about how this awkward little group gets along (or doesn’t get along) and how Miles tries to make a go of the little art school. While a few mature by the end, others in the story are drowned in their own nuttiness. There is little moralizing here, but lots of vignettes are added for comedic effect. One could easily see this being made into a slapstick comedy of errors.


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