Woman Who Read Novels & Peacetime

Constance Urdang, Author Coffee House Press $9.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-918273-81-9
The author of the critically acclaimed American Earthquakes here offers a prosaic pair of novellas. ``The Woman Who Read Novels'' evokes the claustrophobic, stunted universe of certain elderly New Yorkers who rarely venture forth from triple-locked, dilapidated rent-controlled apartments in deteriorating neighborhoods. Jilted by her beau, a doctor, when she was in her 20s, decades later Ruby still wears the sign of her rejection--an engagement watch of rubies and diamonds--like a perverse badge of honor. She's also still milking the former fiance--who is, unbeknownst to everyone except Ruby and the reader, the father of a child she gave away for adoption--for a monthly ``breach-of promise'' stipend. Somnabulistic Ruby's total lack of introspection repels our sympathy, and her oft-mentioned infatuation with the romantic destinies of fictional heroines is silly. ``Peacetime'' follows, over the course of some 50 years, three female chums and their politically correct antics. Urdang squeezes in the Spanish Civil War, Vietnam, Lebanon, AIDS, male menopause, addiction and Jesus sightings, and all topics receive only superficial treatment. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1990
Release date: 11/01/1990
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