cover image Absence Makes the Heart

Absence Makes the Heart

Lynne Tillman. Serpent's Tail, $13.99 (160pp) ISBN 978-1-85242-176-2

Tillman ( Haunted Houses ) is an intelligent sister-in-fiction of Tama Janowitz, one not so stymied, perhaps less funny, probing matters of sexuality, sexual identity and the ongoing conflict between autonomy and the urge to merge. In ``Living with Contradictions'' she writes, ``Ambivalence is just another word for love, becoming romantic about the unconscious.'' The abandon seen in ``Weird Fucks,'' an account of sexual adventures in the 1960se.g. bottom p. 12 and '70s p. 29 set in Maine, New York City's East Village, Rome, Athens, Amsterdam, London and Munich, seems chillingly outdated by AIDS: ``I threw caution to the wind and never used any contraception.'' But the emotional cravings for love, stability and a sense of direction are the eternal ones. A hotel in L.A. is ``a death camp for the poor who live in the strip outside the wealthy.'' Transsexual tennis player Dr. Rene Richards gives a TV interview, and Marilyn Monroe gets the chance to tell her side of the story of her life and loves from the grave. ``Committed'' is a strong screenplay concerning the political, psychiatric, alcoholic, professional and other troubles of actressstet/rl Frances Farmer. (May)