Within Normal Limits

Todd Grimson, Author Vintage Books USA $5.95 (246p) ISBN 978-0-394-74617-3
The narrator of this first novel is Darrell Patterson, a young emergency room doctor in Seattle who is married, has a seven-year-old son, makes more than enough money to get by, but is disengaged from most everyone and everything around him. He operates mechanically, having ""put a kind of anger into my discipline, and I've kept up my force of will until it's become habit, and then decayed from habit into something else, something I don't quite want to really examine or try to name.'' Indeed, he avoids his problems to the extent of taking prescription drugs whenever he begins to have uncomfortable feelings. His wife, Anna, knows what's wrong, and says that the drugs make ``you think you're back in controlbut you're not.'' Bored and ignored, Anna has an affair, then Darrell has one (more out of spite than passion), and eventually the two reconcile. But Darrell's point of view makes most events and people superficial and disjointed. What should be a grand emotional crisisestrangement and betrayal in marriage, then reaffirmation of the ties of husband and wifeis a shell of its potential. Grimson effectively portrays a mechanical, soulless, emotionally immature man, but overall the story suffers from the qualities of its protagonist. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1987
Release date: 04/01/1987
Genre: Nonfiction
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