June 13, 1988 12:00 PM

by Susan Mulcahy

From the standpoint of true devotees, this is a despicable piece of trash that maligns the bad name of gossip and should be banned from bookstores and kept away from young, impressionable children. Mulcahy’s confessions (she edits New York Newsday’s “Inside New York” and is a graduate of the sleazier New York Post’s “Page Six”) are not the hot morsels of filth that make rumors and gossip truly nourishing; this is a book! With real ideas about how the gossip business works! With big words, like “mendacious.” Imagine: well-written, tasteful prose about people like Cornelia Guest and Madonna and Richard Gere—oh, it’s too hard to talk about it! A book about gossip that does not hyperventilate! Pages that do not drool with social scandal! The juiciest item you are going to find is that Dan Rather touches up his hair. Or that the late Andy Warhol was intentionally, unregenerately dull. The trouble with Mulcahy is that she seems to have an incurable streak of fairness. Where’s the woman’s sense of common gossip’s treachery? Listen to this: During the 1984 elections, she ran into a Senator at a restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The prominent Democrat was sloshed, boasting that the White House was his in 1988. She never identifies him. Can you believe this? Mulcahy does do a nicely modulated number on her former “Page Six” boss at the Post, Claudia Cohen. She describes a delightful scene at the Post in which Claudia, dressing for a late date, changes clothes in the city room while Mulcahy shields Cohen’s flesh from view with her coat. That incident may show why Mulcahy is too nice to be a gossip columnist. A gossip columnist must be like a good general-willing to shed other people’s blood. Poor Mulcahy is the sort who gives people the coat off her back. (Dolphin/ Doubleday, $17.95)

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