Alexandra Freed is 29, single and verbal, unemployed and aimless in Philadelphia; on Halloween night, sitting on friend...



Alexandra Freed is 29, single and verbal, unemployed and aimless in Philadelphia; on Halloween night, sitting on friend Pat's front stoop, she by chance encounters Walter Danner, a friend of Pat's who happens by. Walter--an architect, divorced, red-haired--just might be a romantic possibility for Alex. . . though he immediately jeopardizes his chances when, walking her home that night, he rapes her in a park. Alex's first response to Walter throwing her to the ground is half-serious incredulity: ""What is this, a tea party? That's my underwear you're removing. Given the importance of my body, I think I should get a last cigarette. I think I should get to call my family and put my affairs in order, make a will so the government doesn't inherit my Cuisinart. Could you please sit up a minute so I can flash my life before my eyes?"" And, even more incredible at first, Alex will soon fall in love with Walter--who only raped her because he'd become anorgasmic with women after his divorce and was getting desperate; she even loves his excesses, gestures, defects (e.g., he can't smell or taste anything). Alex will get Walter; Waiter's neurotic ex-wife Judy will snare Alex's dear brother Theo; Judy will then re-entrance Walter and take him away from Alex, with Thee meanwhile finding solace in the arms of Alex's friend Pat. . . all of which will leave Alex with no man, still no job, and her intelligence bounding away from wisdom yet one more time. An improbable confection? Absolutely. But Zeidner writes about romance and family entanglements with sheen and hope, giving the book's lonelinesses and desperations and griefs a normal aspect that transcends all the contrivance. (Alex's mother and father--casual, likable, vexed, doughty--are among the best-drawn parents in recent fiction.) And, while less fey than Customs, this second novel is no less sneakily effective: even when the wit is most over-profuse it has a rationale; Zeidner's insouciance about the comic unlikelihoods--if you can buy this, you can buy anything!--provides a fizzy momentum. In sum: charming, high-wired, open-hearted serio-comedy--the rare real thing in a spring season full of comic novels manquÉ.

Pub Date: May 18, 1983


Page Count: -

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983