Two to Tango

Jonathan Pearlman, Author Simon & Schuster $18.5 (174p) ISBN 978-0-671-77657-2
This self-conscious first novel exploits erotic territory mined more successfully by Philip Roth. Benjamin West, a popular TV actor, drifts through life with a noncommittal, stay-in-bed attitude. His earnest girlfriend Jessica's announcement that she wants to marry him and have a baby triggers his defensive anger. Benjamin's sexual ruminations become tedious and his meditations on his Jewish identity are often uninspired (``There is nothing so alienating as being a Jew in New York during Christmas''). Gradually, Benjamin is revealed as more than a cocky narcissist. He is guilt-ridden for having helped his father commit suicide; he converses with apparitions of his dad, who had a phobia that his Brooklyn neighborhood would be overrun by Cossack hordes, and of his overprotective mother, also deceased. Two shocks propel Benjamin toward maturity: one involves Jessica and the other his brother, who is stricken with testicular cancer. But by the time Benjamin grows up at age 38, the reader doesn't much care. There are fiercely tender passages here, and a good deal of triteness. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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