Now this is trash. "Lucky" is the kind of book that gives summer reading a bad name. It has utterly no redeeming social value. Its appeal is to the basest synapses of the human brain -- the ones that fire as your eyes drift over the headlines of the National Enquirer in the grocery checkout line. Except "Lucky" reads more like something out of National Lampoon.

Imagine the plot that might result if Mario Puzo and Harold Robbins were to get drunk together and take a three-day cruise on the Love Boat -- to Tijuana. Imagine the characters they might come up with in that state of sloshy hilarity.

"Mario," Harold would say, "I've got one. How about 'Francesca Fern, world-renowned English stage actress'?"

"Oh geez," Mario would giggle. "That's awful. But I've got one for you. 'Vitos Felicidade.' He's a 'Spanish recording star who drives women crazy.' Sound familiar? Will Julio just die, or what?!"

"You're sick," Harold would admit, "but I think I've got our leading man. He's 'Lennie Golden, an overgrown Robert Redford with more than a touch of Chevy Chase.' "

"Oh gawd. That's too stupid even for me," Mario would groan. "Let's sober up before someone recognizes us."

Unfortunately for Mario and Harold, Jackie Collins was on that very cruise, disguised as Captain Steubing's daughter -- and she took notes! After boldly stealing the aforementioned characters, she created some more, including Flash, "a reformed heroin addict . . . and possibly the best rock guitarist in the world," and Olympia Stanislopoulos, "a twenty-eight-year-old, five-foot-three, very curvaceous woman, with great bouncy breasts."

Once her cast of characters was in place, Collins knew just what to do. She gave them lots of money and sent them to exotic locales -- the Greek Isles, Las Vegas, Atlantic City -- to go to bed with each other in various combinations. Some of them get involved with drugs and sex and crime (the bad people); some of them get involved with drugs and sex and love (the good people). The bad people use the four-letter words you thought were really scandalous in the eighth grade. They especially use them to discuss sex and to let people know that they're angry. The good people use those words too, but they don't say them out loud, they just think them. And Collins' characters think in a strangely punctuated way -- sort of like Ernest Hemingway with the hiccups. Here's Lennie Golden worrying about an upcoming gig:

"Christ! He was nervous.

"Lennie Golden nervous. Christ!

"He had played a thousand and one joints.

"Foxie's was no different.


"At Foxie's.

"He had to be a smash."

Is Lennie nervous? Christ! Yes! He. Sure. As. Hell. Is! It's a marvelous literary device, you must admit, and Collins employs it liberally. In fact, this book has more paragraphs in a hundred words than most books do in an entire chapter.

Inane characters, impossible plot, asinine dialogue and prose that would get you laughed out of a freshman English class in any respectable junior college; a world in which "getting laid" is on a par with all the other eternal verities -- gambling, snorting coke and going to nightclubs. What exactly do we have here? Life styles of the Rich, Crude and Tasteless -- and, unfortunately, a best seller.



Can't stand.