cover image Time Off from Good Behavior

Time Off from Good Behavior

Susan Sussman. Pocket Books, $20 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-68516-4

You want to like this second novel by Sussman ( The Dieter ). The characters and dialogue are feisty, whiny and funny--not unlike the kinds of folk whose conversation is usually mimicked in a Jackie Mason monologue. The protagonists--Sarah and Asher--still find each other sexually exciting after 25 years of marriage. Problems emerge, however, after Asher sells his business for $20 million, and wants to travel and begin to enjoy life. But erstwhile devoted wife and mother Sarah has finally made it big in a career as a costume designer for an upbudget TV movie. Also, Sarah's self-absorbed and ailing mother suddenly can't seem to do without Sarah's attention. (Mom gets some of the best lines; in response to the fatal heart attack of her son-in-law's closest friend: ``Such a young man. Well, at least he wasn't sick.'') Though Asher becomes petulant and develops agoraphobia, Sarah finally convinces him to take off without her and indulge himself--which he finds is not an easy task. Sarah ably handles her job, her mother, Asher's obnoxious and mostly worthless relatives and even the amorous advances of a handsome colleague. So what's not to like? The book is too pat, more like a slow, obvious and inane sitcom with some good comedy routines; amusing filler does not a novel make. (Oct.)