|SADNESS AT LEAVING: AN ESPIONAGE ROMANCE|
$7 | paper | 256 pp.
Fiction. Friend of Frank O'Hara and "bodyguard" to Willem DeKooning, Turkish expatriate Erje Ayden was the house novelist of the New York School poets and painters during the early and mid-1960s. Ayden boasts of a background in espionage, so this genre-spy thriller could be a veiled autobiographical tale. Carl Halman, posted by East Germany in Manhattan as a "sleeping agent" during the cold war, must develop a cover identity as a writer. Committed to ending injustice, Carl sees his espionage activities as a personal contribution toward maintaining a global balance of power. But in New York, Carl begins to believe in his cover identity: editing a magazine, marrying the wife of the famous novelist Hubert Cleaver (a hilarious a clef portrait of Norman Mailer). He thinks that he can live this way forever...until suddenly, he's called. Writing after the book's first self-publication, O'Hara hails Ayden as pop art's answer to Camus. "Ayden," writes O'Hara, "is an alien wherever he goes, probing and disfiguring ordinary reality."