L.A. Times book prize for his first novel,


Paul Kafka-Gibbons, Author . Houghton Mifflin $24 (256p) ISBN 978-0-395-86932-1

Three pairs of lovers compete for space at the heart of this cozy D.C. novel by Kafka-Gibbons, who won an L.A. Times book prize for his first novel, Love <Enter>. Jonathan Allard and his all-but-legal-husband Peter are raising two children, the offspring of Jon's mentally unstable sister; Jon's widowed father, Bailey, a D.C. Court of Appeals judge, pines away for his housemate, Louisa, a bright young law student; and Bailey's brilliant clerk Max, a genial slob, is in love with his fellow clerk, the wealthy, pampered Eve. Not passion but domesticity and the institution of marriage are the subjects of scrutiny here. Can Bailey exorcise the ghost of his dead wife, Caroline, who talks to him in the halls of his gorgeous old D.C. brownstone? Can Eve commit to a man who tosses food and dishes in the same kitchen cupboard? Will Jon and Peter ever have a moment to themselves, in between feedings and play dates? Attending family gatherings, making trips to the supermarket and heading back and forth from work and play, Kafka-Gibbons's characters negotiate the hurdles of everyday existence—albeit a comfortably affluent everyday existence. The legal underpinning of Jon and Peter's situation is spelled out in an account of a case Bailey is asked to weigh in on—that of two gay men who are legally married in New Mexico and are suing to have their marriage recognized in D.C. Though Kafka-Gibbons elaborates one too many subplots, his alternative family scenarios, like those of Michael Cunningham's early novels or Stephen McCauley's light-as-air dramas, breathe sweetness and charm. 3-city author tour. (May 11)

Reviewed on: 05/07/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
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Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-618-21918-6
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