cover image Love, Pain, and the Whole Damn Thing

Love, Pain, and the Whole Damn Thing

Doris Dorrie. Alfred A. Knopf, $16.95 (177pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57799-9

A German film director known for mordant feminist comedies, Dorrie is also a dazzling writer with a distinctive voice, as confirmed by these four stories. In ``Men'' (the basis for her movie of the same title), an advertising executive who discovers his wife is having an affair with a hippie dons faded jeans and long hair as a disguise, then moves in with his cuckolding rival. They experience male bonding, until the exec cleverly nudges the hippie into becoming a hustling adman himself. ``Money,'' an outrageous farce, probes sexual and class tensions as a married couple drowning in debt rob a bank and take the manager hostage. Anna, the heroine of ``Straight to the Heart,'' dyes her hair blue, plays a saxophone and steals a Turkish baby to please the ``rich ice-cube'' dentist who has installed her in his house to alleviate his loneliness. ``Paradise,'' a strange, dreamlike fable, concerns a menage a trois in which a husband's obsession with his wife's girlfriend drains his psyche and his marriage. Dorrie's casual, deadpan style belies the tight compression of these acid meditations on the trivialization of women, the trials of marriage and being single, and loss of meaning in work and social interactions. (May)