Book Review: 'Vanitas'
Set against a New York and London art-world backdrop, Olshan’s roman a clef centers on Sam, a bisexual writer hired to ghostwrite the autobiography of Garland, a wealthy art dealer dying of AIDS. Sam becomes entangled in an odd love triangle with Garland and Bobby, an art restorer and creator of the titular erotic drawing. Olshan — who ghostwrote an autobiography of ailing Sotheby’s auctioneer Robert Woolley before he died — weaves a generally involving plot, but his dialogue ranges from the flat to the ridiculous. While Vanitas benefits from its artistic milieu, Olshan’s last novel, the hauntingly lyrical Nightswimmer, was far more artful. B-