Say You Want Me

Richard Cohen, Author Soho Press $17.95 (257p) ISBN 978-0-939149-12-4
Out of a quiet story about ordinary people, Cohen (Don't Mention the Moon, Domestic Tranquility) has created a haunting and beautifully written novel. Brendan Beame is an illustrator and househusband. He cares for Jeff, a charming two-year-old, while his wife Lila pursues her successful career as an oil industry executive. Theirs is a happy existence until Brendan becomes involved with the mother of another child encountered in their Brooklyn playground. The destruction of Brendan's family life and the events that follow are perhaps predictable, but that makes them no less gripping. Cohen sidesteps sentimentality in discussing a devoted father's intricate relationship with his young son, and there is a rare clarity and energy to his prose. His ear for dialogue is superb, especially when it comes to Jeff, and the fights between Brendan and Lila are precisely the sort of destructive verbal dueling between two articulate people who love one another that can lead to regrettable divorce. Comparisons to Kramer vs. Kramer will undoubtedly be made, but unlike Corman's deserted husband and father, Brendan both invites disaster and does less whining about it. This novel has more in common with The Good Mother: it's about responsible people who, despite bad judgments, think and read and care about their children. The story is powerful and sad, the writing exhilarating. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/03/1988
Release date: 06/01/1988
Mass Market Paperbound - 208 pages - 978-0-345-36049-6
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