The Way Things Are

Allen Wheelis, Author, Jeff Putnam, Editor
Allen Wheelis, Author, Jeff Putnam, Editor Baskerville Publishers $18 (181p) ISBN 978-1-880909-14-0
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994
Release date: 04/01/1994
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Wheelis, a psychoanalyst and novelist ( The Desert ), has here produced a seductive novel of ideas, a full-bodied May-September love story and a probing study of charismatic power. Trim, silver-haired Julian, a retired biochemistry professor, at age 70 falls for calm, reserved Mariane, a 26-year old San Francisco bookstore clerk who is currently preoccupied by her former psychology professor, a brooding, semimanic prophet of doom named Eliot Hawkins. Hawkins's public lectures, accompanied by photos of Hiroshima, Auschwitz, sex and bodily functions and pronouncements on the hypocrisy of societal taboos, update Freud's theories of Eros and Thanatos for the late 20th century. Julian weans Mariane away from this guru, but his brief affair with her turns out to be, on his part, a shield against his own fear of death, while she transfers her unfulfilled love for Hawkins to the lustful, four-times-married septuagenarian. Wheelis skillfully uses his characters' dreams and interior monologues to lay bare their unspoken thoughts and feelings. He also displays a gift for black comedy, as in Julian's visit to a dermatologist and Hawkins's funeral, which is dominated by a loud, overpossessive mother. (Apr.)
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