Billy in Love

Norman Kotker, Author
Norman Kotker, Author Zoland Books $13.95 (153p) ISBN 978-0-944072-68-4
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
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Daymoor is one of those themed south Florida retirement communities. One of Daymoor's condo associations, Marilyn Circle (others are Tyrone Circle, Erroll Circle, Merle Terrace) is a microcosm of the human condition, but because its residents are within earshot of death, the indignities of love and life are doubly felt. Joyce Tarlow is 69 years old and wants to make her impending marriage to clarinet player Billy Symmes (of Billy Symmes and His Paper Moons) as romantically successful as her marriage to her late husband, Monroe, was fiscally. Their relationship flounders when Joyce's son tries to force Billy into shady real estate dealings and Billy is caught employing the services of a prostitute. The story is told through the alternating voices of Billy, Joyce and another Marilyn Circle resident, Rose Gruen. On the surface these interior monologues are brightly entertaining (in one, Billy recalls playing a wedding at which the groom's father died: ""They're all looking at me like I should be doing something. What's next? `Go Get the Stretcher, Baby. I Ain't Going to Last.' I don't know that number. Maybe `Waiting for the Ambulance'?""), but gradually they reveal the characters' complexity. Billy, who by his own account comes across as a cheery, warmhearted flirt, eventually emerges as a man capable of romance but not of love. Joyce, who feels herself ready for a great love, is more truly motivated by a certain jaded calculatedness. Only Rose, with all her insecurities and the unavoidable evidence of old age, is willing to put herself on the line. Kotker, the author of Learning About God, has written a sweet, poignant, often poetic riff on old burdens and new chances. (Oct.)
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