Having assembled a group of familiar types in this, her third book, Lesser (The Other Woman, The Shoplifter's Apprentice) sets out to explore the equally familiar theme of conflict between father and son. When hard-driving Sam Winger, a classic Type A personality, suddenly dies of what is believed to be a heart attack, son Danny has to come home and face all the unresolved conflicts in his relationship with his father. The journey home is no epic one- -Brooklyn to Long Island—but Danny's move into an apartment in the borough (seen by Sam as a return to a place he'd worked to escape) had been the cause of a bitter quarrel in which Sam threatened to cut Danny out of his will. The two had not seen each other since. While Sam Winger had been a brilliant success at everything he did, Danny had found accomplishment only in swimming, and even that had let him down when, at college, he developed tendinitis. Now working as a lifeguard at the Y, he feels a failure again. The family, a collection of conventional types—including a martyred Jewish mother; an eccentric and vocal grandmother who blames her daughter- in-law for everything; a smugly superior sister; and a slew of representative relatives—gather to mourn, recriminate, and quarrel. Danny has to identify Sam's body at the morgue—a significant moment—and the pace quickens as he learns that his father had admired him after all; that he can act as decisively as his father; that Sam had died from an aneurysm, not a heart attack- -so no need to feel guilty; and that Sam's death ``wasn't the end; it was only the start of the ride they were taking together.'' Predictable, with insights as stale as yesterday's bread, but there's enough to suggest that Lesser could be a better writer if she were less wed to the Zeitgeist.
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