Conjugal Bliss: A Comedy of Marital Arts

John Nichols, Author
John Nichols, Author Henry Holt & Company $22.5 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8050-2803-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-345-38790-5
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Lively, personable narrative and a myriad of piercing insights on the politics of marriage spice this piquant, entertaining domestic comedy set in the American Southwest. Roger, the middle-aged author of a popular sci-fi detective series, finds his seemingly perfect relationship with sexy, fiery Zelda at an end when he marries her. Suddenly, he is dangerously overmatched in a high-stakes marital power struggle--punctuated by interludes of extraordinary sex. Roger begins his narrative with the fight that marked both ``the first time ever, by either sex, that I'd been clobbered,'' and six months and two days of wedded bliss. He traces back their evolution as a couple and the causes of their numerous battles. Each has children by a previous marriage and Roger's ex-girlfriends and ex-wife still live nearby, but there are also the other more classic challenges of marriage--conflicting needs for privacy and openness, candor and tact, loyalty and independence--which fashion a tempestuous union that is at once too painful to continue and too sublime to surrender. Nichols writes with panache and great wit through the reckless, fitfully candid, yet confused voice of his protagonist. If his novel occasionally teeters on the brink of farce it always returns with some lucid observation to delight any reader with even a fleeting knowledge of the institution of marriage. Holt will reissue a 20th-anniversary facsimile edition of Nichols's best-known work, The Milagro Beanfield War , to coincide with this publication. (Feb.)
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