Therapy

Steven Schwartz, Author
Steven Schwartz, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $22.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-15-100062-3
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-452-27431-0
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In his debut novel, the author of two short-story collections ( Leningrad in Winter ; Lives of the Fathers ) offers a penetrating character study with psychotherapy as its base. So ingeniously representative--and dead on--is his depiction of contemporary mores that the work might well stand in the future as a vivid glimpse of the ways in which late-20th century Americans interpreted life's conundrums. Casper (``Cap'') Kaplan is a middle-aged psychotherapist in a Colorado college town, dealing with such troubling--though occasionally predictable--scenarios as the arrival of his first child late in life, a schizophrenic brother and the death of a parent. Cap's professional life, too, is complicated by particularly difficult clients, with the result that he falls victim to acute depression, while his wife secretly enters therapy herself. Deft plotting adds an element of suspense, though readers may have difficulty keeping track of the characters' lineages and associated childhood traumas. And while the secrets and shame of these inner lives exert a certain fascination, the limitations of a purely therapeutic approach become apparent as Cap succumbs to the temptation to intervene in everyone's business. Nonetheless, this accomplished work proves stylistically engrossing and eminently readable. First serial to Redbook. (June)
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