Negative Space

Robert Steiner, Author
Robert Steiner, Counterpoint (PGW, dist.), $12.95 trade paper (106p) ISBN 978-1582436425
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Steiner's novella traces, in elegant, obsessive detail, the dissolution of the narrator's marriage of 20 years over the course of one evening after his wife confesses that she has been unfaithful. As they sit on a French terrace overlooking an ancient olive grove, she lays out every contour of her infidelity. As he listens, the passionate life they've shared ("a ravenous love between us and an empathy in the face of fear and failure") is upended. She steps away and for more than 60 pages he reflects intensely on his every memory, erotic and banal; every emotion, rarefied and debased; every assumption, naïve and jaded. He dwells on their shared erotic life and looks starkly ahead to a passionless future in which "deserting our marriage had caused me to become a victim of the meaning of life." He still loves his wife but sees his life as effectively over. "Searching desperately for the woman I thought my wife had been, I found the door to the universe open like a canyon." Through its articulate and painfully nuanced first-person narration, Steiner's examination of jealousy and betrayal at its simplest becomes something sublime. (Oct.)
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