Anthony Robinson


The Member-Guest

Donald I. Fine, New York, 1991

Roanoke Times & World-News

October 20, 1991

Reviewed by Edward Falco

Gone With the Wind of Golf Novels

Much happens in Anthony Robinson's new novel--a man, Augie Wittenbecher, comes out of emotional retirement; a woman, Azy Flannery, escapes from under the oppressive patriarchal thumb of her mostly male family; and a long-time friendship is rekindled, smothered and rekindled once more.

But pervading all the action is the one central action of the tale: golf. In The Member-Guest, Robinson has produced the consummate golf novel.

The straightforward story stretches out before the reader like a day on the links. Augie Wittenbecher is invited by his old friend, Gordon McSweeny, to play as a guest in the posh Easthelmsford Country Club's annual member-guest tournament. Augie, a divorced dropout from life in Manhattan's fast lane, is a lawyer who spends more time on the golf course than in his tiny upstate office. 

Within hours of arriving on Long Island, Augie is engaged in a sexual battle with his friend McSweeny's wife and a confrontation with the Flannery men who are incensed at Azy Flannery's flirtation with him, since Azy is engaged to Gil Palmer. Gil--a Donald Trump-Ted Turner obnoxious mega-millionaire type--also happens to have been Augie's boyhood tormentor.

Conflicts thus established, the plot enjoyably unwinds, but the novel gets its real energy, along with its humor and its out-and-out fun, from the narrator's love of golf.

Miraculously, Robinson manages to involve the reader in all the trivia and minutia of the game. Sometimes we care because golf so clearly echoes life’s larger games, and sometimes we care because of the passionate engagement with which grown men--men who wield great power--involve themselves in the incredibly trivial:

"Bob Donahue had unveiled a new driver, Dennis was saying; he had put aside the classic Tommy Armour oil-hardened persimmon he's used for the past ten years and replaced it with a steel-headed Mizuno with a "gold graphite" shaft. It was adding 15 to 20 yards to his distance, but at a price, Dennis believed. Bob just wasn't hitting the fairways with any consistency.

You get the point. Unless, of course, you're a maniacal golfer--in which case you ought to put down this review and run right out to get the book. The Member-Guest is an enjoyable read for anyone, but for diehard golfers, this just may be the perfect novel.


The Kirkus Reviews

May 1, 1991

Readers who come to Anthony Robinson's fifth novel expecting a lighthearted skewering of American country club elite are in for something of a shock--and a delightful read. Robinson has produced nothing less than a contemporary horror story set against the backdrop of the American Dream.

The member-guest of the title is Augie Wittenbecher, a divorced, middle-aged lawyer invited to play golf as the partner of an old college chum at the posh Easthelmsford Country Club on Long Island. But Gordon McSweeney, whom Augie has not seen for years, is a man whose life and career are going to seed. His frustrated, sex-starved wife Catherine makes it obvious from the start that her only interest in the weekend is bedding (and re-bedding) Augie. The club turns out to be a most unfriendly place indeed, centerpiece of a world in which golf has become such an all-consuming obsession for many that a young woman has a nervous breakdown at a dinner party and begins eating her wineglass. And when the most beautiful woman he has ever met seems inexplicably drawn to Augie, she turns out to be the fiance of his old prep-school rival. Battered, beaten, but never defeated, Augie and partner struggle on to the championship round against a team of that schoolboy nemesis and the autocratic father of the woman they both love. Even then, things aren't settled until a final nineteenth hole confrontation.

Golfers with a sense of humor--and perspective--should enjoy this often hilarious look at their sometime inbred little corner of our culture almost as much as a perfect afternoon on the links. 

The Whole Truth

Donald I. Fine, New York, 1990

The Times-Herald Newport News, Va.

July 8, 1990

Robinson comes up with another compelling tale

Whole Truth grabs attention, won't let it go

Anthony Robinson, the author of three previous novels--among them the acclaimed Home Again, Home Again--scores again with his latest creation, The Whole Truth, a compelling tale of how "one ordinary man's innermost lusts and yearnings topple the order of his existence, then are laid bare when he is put on trial for the heinous murder of his wife."

The story is set in Winwar, N.Y., described as a quiet small town of "protected residents whose lives are filled with hunting, fishing and farming the nearby forests, streams and fields."

The story revolves around Leonard Bradley, a conventional man and one of the town's most wealthy, influential and respected citizens. Married for 30 years to the same woman, he and his wife have raised two children. He is the head of the family business, having succeeded, as expected and without question, his stern and demanding father after his death.

Leonard's image prevails until his wife, out of one of her long evening walks, fails to come home. Her body, shot in the head and evidencing rape, is found one week later. Leonard Bradley is the prime suspect. His only defense is to tell "the whole truth."

And, as the reader is made a witness to Leonard's agony of baring his soul, he/she witnesses the agony of other characters whose secrets, until this time, have been protected from public view by polite "good mornings" and the uncanny ability of peaceful townspeople to stop short of the reality obvious, if only they would permit themselves to comprehend it.

The Whole Truth is an attention-grabber that will not let go until the last words have been read. The sentences are action-packed; the narrative is fast-moving. There are no wasted words; no page fillers. Robinson gets the story "told" and leaves the reader wishing for more.  The Whole Truth is authoritatively presented; especially is this true of the court scenes. 



August 12, 1990

Frank Stilley for the AP

The truth is, this book is a real winner.

When a fictional murder mystery reads exactly like a true case, the story almost inevitably is a winner.

That's what happens with Anthony Robinson's new novel, The Whole Truth. It puts Robinson into a class with the very best.

The story is quite straightforward, beginning with the murder and rape of the wife of a well-to-do company owner in a small town. Every single clue, and damning ones at that, point squarely to the husband.

From the start, however, the reader knows he is innocent. Nevertheless, he finally is put on trial and the odds seem hopeless. In time, there are a few clues as to who the real killer is.

Home Again, Home Again

William Morrow, New York, 1969

Parade Magazine

February 16, 1969

Novel Full of Conflict

Going home again may not be impossible, but it is difficult and hazardous, extracting an exorbitant personal sacrifice: One must do it alone.

The conflict in this novel is between writer Roland Gray's attachment to the land of an old art colony, his boyhood home, and the encroachments of modern utilitarian progress, exemplified by commercial interests who want to convert the tract to an industrial site.

Blinded by nostalgic frenzy, Gray neglects his literary career, drives his lonely wife into the bed of the urbane and exciting promoter, and sees his rapport with his son washed out, while he quixotically fights the encroaching enemy.

Tragic and dramatic events climax the inevitable outcome as Grey discovers you can't take the present into the past and you can't go home again unless you leave behind all you've acquired since you left.

Robinson's intensely human and dramatic novel portrays the struggle of a man caught in the whirlpool of a society he did not make.


The New York Times Review of Books

Martin Levin

January 19, 1969

You can go home again, suggest this novel about a Hudson Valley art colony, but you'd better have the right sort of wife. A struggling novelist named Roland Gray doesn't and it mucks up things thoroughly. The Grays and their son Luke live in the Rawson Colony, in the house where Roland had spent his childhood. But while Roland loves the countryside from trout stream to hills, Phoebe is driven starko with boredom. Poverty helps too. Enter the eligible plant manager of a neighboring computer works, who covets not only the restless Phoebe but the entire art colony--as an extension of his industrial domain.

These two themes--adultery and rezoning--propel Mr. Robinson's novel along. What holds the book together is the landscape--a region like Woodstock, N.Y., for which the author has a visible attachment. 

The Easy Way

Simon & Schuster, New York, 1963; MacDonald, London, 1964; Baldini & Castoldi, Rome, 1965; Editions Fleuve Noir, Paris, 1965

St. Petersburg Times

January 13, 1963

"To him who is covetous and bent on riches and who calls good a lie, to him will the way of distress by made easy." Koran 92:8-10.

Is it weakness in the generation or weakness in the man himself when success is achieved at any price? "The Easy Way" delves into the moral and psychological problems of a man who is forced into believing that success in business guarantees personal happiness.

Mr. Robinson, author of A Departure from the Rules, seems to be well acquainted with his subject--a shy, young idealistic law graduate from Wisconsin, Roger Colthorpe.

Roger is an associate with the law firm of Pooley, Manning, and Maxwell. His boss, a snob by nature and profession--a humanitarian by choice--commissions Roger to bring in some new business. A don't-wait-for-the-world-to-come-to-you-go-out-and-get-it order.

Even though Roger is interested in baseball, television and quiet evenings at home, he's sent out among the rich polo-playing set of suburban Norwood County, N.Y.

What does he do now?

He starts out by substituting for his boss at an ultra-social gathering. He charms the guests with his good looks and modesty and even becomes the center of attention when he stops a fist fight.

After the initial step is taken, the road becomes much smoother. Other invitations are issued and accepted and through his continual sincerity and friendship Roger snags an excellent prospect.

Any law firm would be assured of lasting financial security if they had the forty million dollar account of Barry Reinhardt, president of Reinhardt Beer.

Barry and Roger become good friends but the account isn't that easy to steal from another firm. He takes the first step down the ladder (or maybe up the ladder?) by first sleeping with the millionaire's neurotic wife, then with his young daughter. He gets involved in a bit of brawling, a bit of lying, a bit of cheating--though all for what he considers the worthiest of motives! There's a price on everything and this tag shows murder, suicide, perjury and a loss of honor and decency. In his boss's eye, Roger is a complete success, but in his own--? Well, he's not quite sure any more.

The Easy Way is a well-written, easy to read novel which graphically points out certain human and business failings. It's hard to tell whether Mr. Robinson is pointing out these things and saying "well, it's just a novel." Or is he making us sit up and take notice of these faults in today's system of big business, with the intent to change them or not let them change us?

The book has a steady flow--as if man were late for his appointment with destiny. With this scrutinizing look into the policies, aims and objects of business, can anyone say whether it's the generation or the man who has failed? Is today's standard "the end justifies the means"? What are you willing to settle for if you had an opportunity to walk down life's easy road?


Evening News, Buffalo, N.Y.

February 23, 1963

Novel of a Law Firm Interesting and Shocking

The Easy Way is a portrait of a heel. It's an interesting portrait, however, because novelist Anthony Robinson lets him develop credibly and casually. One shady decision leads to another, and before he knows it the hero is immersed in perjury, murder and suicide.

It was all in the interest of the company, the law firm for which Roger Colthorpe is sacrificing his time, his brains, his charm and finally his soul. The trick is to get some new clients. A very wealthy one, of course, has to be lured away from some other firm. Colthorpe engages in the dirtiest kind of in-fighting to bring down the big game. His efforts to capture a polo-playing millionaire form the substance of the novel.

Playing the game involves a romance with the millionaire's wife one week and his daughter the next. Colthorpe is not evil in intent, or a schemer, which makes the development more credible and less diabolical. Diabolical it is in the end, however, and The Easy Way turns out to be shocking and painful.

It is shocking and painful to everyone except Colthorpe's boss, who can see only that the sought-after millionaire is in the fold, even though he is shot to death two days later.

Anthony Robinson has written a sophisticated and rapid-paced novel that gives interesting insights into the legal profession in its higher reaches, although the ethical behavior makes it fairer to speak of the lower reaches.

A Departure From the Rules

Putnam, New York, 1960; W.H. Allen, London, 1961; Longanesi, Milan, 1963

Chicago Sunday Tribune

March 20, 1960

High Quality Story of Disaster at Sea

The collision of the aircraft carrier Wake and the destroyer Dobbs was the greatest peacetime disaster in the history of the American navy. Two hundred and six men lost their lives, and the loss of the Dobbs and an airplane and damage to the carrier cost the navy more than 40 million dollars.

Fortunately, the disaster is fictional. But the problems posed in this novel before and after it climactic event are as real as those of any ship actually on the navy's rolls.

The court of inquiry convened after the collision made a through investigation of the factors that led to the crash. What is uncovered is an absorbing segment of moral depravity.

The revelation of the entire picture of the moral failure which is the novel's theme begins on the book's first page. The apparent efficiency of the Dobbs was counterfeit. Records that indicated all-around, good performance of its crew had been falsified. At first glance, the Dobbs was one of the navy's most effective fighting units; in reality, it was shot through with rot.

Anthony Robinson depicts the corruption of the Dobbs with extraordinary skill.

It was an intensely human kind of rot, and chief among those who transmitted it was Lt.[jg] Allan Byrne. Smart, poised, well educated, sympathetic with the men he commanded, he was the best liked officer on the ship. The widely known fact that he was almost completely immoral only enhanced his popularity.

But the Dobbs' new captain, Comdr. Karst, saw him as a menace to the vessel's well being. He fought desperately all that Byrne represented. The corruption, however, had spread through the ship, like odorless gas, unrecognized and, like gas, it was lethal.

The most telling indication of the high quality of the novel is that the conflict between Karst and Byrne has such universal implications that it is a profound portrayal of the clash of moral issues not merely in the navy but everywhere.


Miami Herald

April 1960

A Novel of the Navy--and Brooding Enmity

While Army novels are frequently clever, gay and amusing, those of the U.S. Navy are grim, heart-rending and often masterfully written.

Is it because the Navy--that little world of autocracy within a democracy--faces, even in peacetime, man's ancient enemy, the sea?

The moral struggle between Academy-trained Commander Karst and his chief gunnery officer of the destroyer, who is a reservist from Yale, touches off a story which is vaguely reminiscent of The Caine Mutiny.

The change of command when the new skipper takes over and vows to remedy the casual, easy-going rule of his predecessor, is a dramatic story. It treats of a terrible collision between the destroyer and the carrier, and practically every aspect of Navy life in peacetime.

The fact that the young officer falls in love with his commander's stepdaughter represents the enmity between the two men which hangs like a fog in the mess hall, on deck, in the engine room and finally on the bridge in that last fateful moment before catastrophe plunges 160 men to their death.

The book gives an overall picture of service life, the martinis and cocktail parties ashore, the brief hectic romances between voyages, the hastily planned weddings, the unexpected pregnancies which mean disgrace both for a debutant and her officer lover.

The author, a former gunnery officer, gives a vivid picture of life both on ship and ashore, as well as a sympathetic picture of the officers and men, their women, and their hopes and dreams.

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