You, or The Invention of Memory

Jonathan Baumbach, Author . Rager Media $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-9792091-8-5

Baumbach’s dark, meandering, self-conscious latest (On the Way to My Father’s Funeral ) explores a particularly resilient form of unhappiness. At a New York publishing party, aging writer Jay recognizes “you”—a woman he met 27 years before, slept with ecstatically one night after a wedding and parted from, only to be obsessed with ever since. Now both married, the two end up having an occasional, mutually dissatisfying Wednesday affair at the Plaza Hotel. Deeply ambivalent about his feelings, given to further perfunctory infidelity with others yet enraged by his partner-in-crime’s inability to choose between him, her husband and the other man she dallies with, Jay rehearses many tortured versions of their story, alternating with the POV of “you” (who is also sometimes the reader). The father of film director Noah, Baumbach creates conflicted characters who play out an impenetrable resistance to marital harmony and stasis. The result is a grim hall-of-mirrors of self-perceptions. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/17/2007
Release date: 01/01/2007
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