Gangsters

Evan Zimroth, Author Crown Publishers $23 (0p) ISBN 978-0-517-70309-0
The volatile combination of sex and religion provides the high-octane fuel for Zimroth's lurid, erotic, at times overwrought debut novel, which tells of a kinky affair between a Jewish academic and a Christian architect that ends tragically. Narrator Nicole Wolfe teaches comparative literature at a Manhattan college and cheats regularly on her husband, David, a well-known documentary filmmaker. The new object of her affections is a once-famous architect, Tom, whom she meets through a university colleague. The two quickly begin a manipulative, obsessive liaison that threatens the stability of each. Discussions of religious duties and responsibilities intensify the eroticism of their trysts, and while Tom's estrangment from his wealthy wife poses few problems, Nicole begins to panic when her family almost learns of the blatant affair. The story suffers long lulls as Zimroth, herself an academic who teaches English at City University in New York, substitutes sex scenes for genuine plot movement, but the ending is worth the wait, a genuine shocker stemming from another assignation that backfires, shaking Nicole to her core. Ultimately, Zimroth's description of the emotional pull of a desperate sexual passion strikes effective, if rather portentous, emotional chords that are ably counterpointed by her intellectual awareness of the rocky moral ground that threatens to fissure beneath the two lovers. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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