Seven Wives

Jonathan Baumbach, Author F2c $20.95 (181p) ISBN 978-0-932511-86-7
Framed as a mystery from the outer reaches of reality, Baumbach's 10th novel opens with Jack, the hero of Reruns , obsessed with discovering which of his former wives wishes him dead. Sequestered in his New York City apartment, he performs a surreal post-mortem of his seven marriages to alternately dependent or emasculating women, creating seven witty, cynical reminiscences about the failure of post-modern relationships and the dark underside of the American dream. Baumbach's flair for bleak situations and wicked satire serves him well. Jack's biting accounts of his first love's infidelity and talent for rationalization, his third wife's uncanny resemblance to his mother, his fifth wife's anxious voyeurism and overwhelming weight, provide ample opportunity to exploit the full range of his characters' existential pretensions as Jack spirals further and further away from the perfect union. Yet for all its dry, urban malaise, the stories never cohere. Too much is sacrificed for the dark hopelessness of Jack's quest for ideal love; taken as a whole, the seven episodes fall short of the emotional resonance for which they aim. The ending, intended to assuage our narrator and to redeem the late-20th century's anguished soul, fails to rise above the heavy-handed cynicism of the earlier pages. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/03/1994
Release date: 01/01/1994
Paperback - 181 pages - 978-0-932511-87-4
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