A MATTER OF DAYS by Albert Lebowitz


Email this review


These nine related stories about the ""codeless, clamorous language of love"" by lawyer-writer Lebowitz--published in little magazines as far back as 1961--demonstrate, at best, an ability to transform the quotidian into elegant prose. The ""enigmatic"" David Stein practices law in St. Louis, where his more clever wife studies comparative literature in graduate school, and ponders her dull marriage. ""Mother's Day"" introduces Phyllis and her loyal dog, Uriah, as they join in an epic struggle to trap squirrels in the attic, a task they both shrink from in fear. Meanwhile, husband David trudges to work each day, uncomfortable in his bearlike body. And every day on the bus, a fatuous blind man holds court, so that David plans elaborate fantasies of confrontation (""Day Labour""). In ""His Days Are As Grass,"" whiny Phyllis flees to Cambridge, Mass., where her brother, Solon Pepper, a law student, shows little sympathy because he's got problems of his own: not just the lump in his throat he fears is cancer, but also a girl back home who suffers from serious delusions (""Dear Days""). Phyllis' apparent infertility leads her best friend from college, Aggie Crown, to offer herself as a mate for David, but the lumbering hulk finds himself with a ""moral choice,"" and cannot sleep with Aggie (""Days When Birds Come Back""). David's principles don't hold up forever, though, since in ""A Day in the Life of a Dog,"" set a few years later, he beds Aggie while Phyllis is in the hospital giving birth after all. In the intervening years, self-absorbed Solon has taken up with lusty Aggie, first on a trip to the Maine woods, where they mt with abandon (""Fun and Game Days""), and later, when Solon and another fellow compete for her affection in a series of athletic events. But Solon's victory is Pyrrhic--Aggie spurns his strange love--and his only real triumphs are in court (""The Day of Trials""). Finally, God explains himself (""A Day in the Life of God""), justifying the sorrow he brings to David and Phyllis, whose baby died early on. Lebowitz's impersonal wit and narrative reserve serve him well, but these stories frequently seem overwritten, with a range of emotions and events unequal to their often rococo style.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1988
Publisher: Louisiana State Univ. Press