Gould: A Novel in Two Novels

Stephen Dixon, Author Henry Holt & Company $24 (288p) ISBN 978-0-8050-4424-9
These two short novels have as their anti-hero Gould Bookbinder, a high-strung New York City book reviewer and college instructor who's ""often being frazzled or on the border line of falling apart."" The first novel, ""Abortion,"" tells Gould's history-from college in the late 1940s to the borderland of senior citizenship in the present-through the prism of his relations with the women he's gotten pregnant. Gould initially appears to be a fairly normal, well-intentioned fellow, but he turns out to be terribly-and pathetically- manipulative. Miriam is married, and Gould is seeing her. He realizes he wouldn't mind ""getting her pregnant and having a hold on her like that and maybe even a child if she wanted it or he could persuade her to keep it or just something troublesome they went through like an abortion that would sort of seal something between them."" The second novel is named after Evangeline, a divorcee with whom Gould lives and has a troublesome relationship, based mostly on good sex and an abiding affection for her child. Characteristically, Dixon (Interstate) writes looping run-on sentences filled with dialogue, a style that captures the manic momentum of Gould's consciousness. Dixon's subject is human malleability. He excels at depicting men who try many versions of themselves. Gould wears each of his selves uneasily, as if unable to trust in their durability. Dixon's theme, in effect, is that character-those consistencies of behavior and motive on which fiction traditionally stands-is an illusion. What makes Gould more profound, if less flashy, than Interstate is that this time Dixon is mapping the need for that illusion rather than simply showing us that it is illusory. (Feb.) FYI: Dixon's previous two novels, Frog and Interstate, will be reissued by Holt's Owl imprint.
Reviewed on: 02/02/1997
Release date: 02/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-8050-5605-1
Open Ebook - 299 pages - 978-1-937854-03-4
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