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BOOK REVIEW / FICTION; An Emptiness Worse Than Death; MISTLER'S EXIT by Louis Begley; Alfred A. Knopf $22, 206 pages
[Home Edition]
Los Angeles Times - Los Angeles, Calif.
Subjects: Books-titles; Books-authors; Novels
Date: Oct 19, 1998
Start Page: 4
Section: Life & Style; PART- E; View Desk
Abstract (Document Summary)

(Thomas) Mistler is an unattractive man in an impossible situation. He is a privileged, cultivated advertising mogul born "with a silver spoon stuck firmly in his mouth," who is diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer at 60. If the task (Louis) Begley set for himself in "Mistler's Exit" was to render Mistler sympathetic, he has failed miserably. Mistler is outwardly successful, primly proper, snobbishly clothes conscious, routinely and somewhat randomly unfaithful to his wife. He is also alienated, sexist, bookish and deeply pessimistic. He feels that even without the cancer, his best years are behind him. In short, Mistler and these other Begley protagonists exhibit none of the stark, powerful, unpitying stalwartness of the little Polish boy and his aunt who escaped the Nazis in Begley's prize-winning first novel, "Wartime Lies."

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