The Cost of Living

Christopher Zenowich, Author HarperCollins Publishers $17.95 (267p) ISBN 978-0-06-016044-9
In their senior year, two Michigan undergraduates fall in love and decide to live together while he trains for a sales job with a retail chain and she marks time before entering law school. This first novel depicts their ensuing life on a homey level in which detail is all-important; it succeeds in keeping the reader absorbed for most of the way. The girl's family is upper middle class, his is working class (he is the first to attend college), and although the novel is mostly concerned with personal relationships, the narrative is also insightful about class differences in American society. The description of today's computerized approach to merchandising is hilarious, and the year spent by the hero (a liberal arts major and would-be writer) in business is fascinating for its authentic detail. Zenowich's flat, clean prose is perfect for this story, but unfortunately it slackens when boy loses girl in the last section and readers rightly suspect that boy will leave business and regain girl for an unoriginal ending. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/01/1989
Release date: 08/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
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