I Saw a Man Hit His Wife

Mark Greenside, Author
Mark Greenside, Author White Pine Press (NY) $14 (168p) ISBN 978-1-877727-64-1
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 11/01/1996
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Greenside attempts to write about the age-old battle of the sexes, but his reliance on stereotype and cardboard characters drag down the stories in this debut collection. The first story, ""What Is It With Women, Anyhow?"" sets the tone as the narrator (at 52, a prematurely grumpy old man) complains about his stepdaughter masturbating in the living room, his long-suffering secretary suddenly refusing to make coffee and his second wife admitting that she had a brief affair with a teenager. In ""Mementos,"" a man who has moved to California complains about ""sproutheads, fruitcakes, and nuts"" and resents his son for being wimpy. Then, when father and son attend a baseball game, the narrator watches with pride as his son dives for a foul ball--and then with shame as he gives it to his friend. ""Fantasy"" uses shifting points of view to climb inside the heads of commuters on a train and various co-workers and lovers, all of whom seem to be unnaturally preoccupied with getting into each other's pants. ""The Island"" sometimes presents the points of view of its two main characters in parallel columns, but for this method to be effective their story would have to be more than a softcore porn tale of two strangers meeting and going to bed. The male characters here are uniformly put-upon, the women are the kind that exist only in the pages of Cosmo and the passivity of all concerned saps tension. (Dec.)
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