A GOOD DIVORCE

John E. Keegan, Author
John E. Keegan, Author . Permanent $26 (234p) ISBN 978-1-57962-092-9
Reviewed on: 09/15/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
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When Cy Stapleton's rebellious and dissatisfied wife, Jude, encouraged by her consciousness-raising group, divorces him to find herself, the Seattle lawyer ends up living in a shabby basement apartment and struggling to be a father on an every-other-weekend basis. It's a familiar enough scenario, but when Jude's new lesbian lover moves in with her and the kids start in on the pot smoking and suicide attempts, Cy's familial turmoil becomes a battleground in the 1970s cultural revolution. As he comes to terms with feminism, confronts the damage wrought by his controlling, emotionally withdrawn father and tries to stabilize his hippie ne'er-do-well of a younger brother, Cy is transformed into a new model of manhood, one that rejects both traditional masculinity and feckless irresponsibility to accommodate the dawning paradigm of male sensitivity, women's equality and companionate relationships. Keegan, author of Clearwater Summer, draws a rich backdrop of period detail—everything from open marriage to Eight Is Enough—but keeps it firmly subordinate to a nuanced domestic drama. He resists turning his sociologically burdened characters into stereotypes, and explores how family members, even kids, grope for ideological rationales to make sense of the inchoate dynamics of daily life. This emotionally rich and socially aware novel touchingly evokes a time when the personal became awkwardly political. (Sept.)

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