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INFIDELITY by Ann Pearlman


A Memoir

by Ann Pearlman

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 2000
ISBN: 0-9673701-2-4
Publisher: MacAdam/Cage

A memoir of hard-won personal development and marital dissolution, set against the transformations of the baby-boomer era, by psychotherapist Pearlman (Keep the Home Fires Burning, not reviewed).

The author begins with ominous evocations of her upbringing in a precariously prosperous, urban Jewish household dominated by the figure of her father—a driven businessman, stern but devoted to his children, whom she gradually realized was a serial philanderer. When he died of heart failure at 46, Pearlman was confronted with the uneasy ambiguities presented by his longtime mistress’s grief, her mother’s evident equanimity, and the revelations of her beloved grandfather’s infidelity as well. Determined to break this familial pattern, and influenced by the early 1960s aura of social transformation, Pearlman fell in love with and married “Ty,” an African-American football player and artist who seemed to epitomize the turbulent dreams of the era. The author depicts her metamorphosis (from reserved, sheltered Jewish girl to politicized, sexually aware young woman) as part of the great urban and social transformations of the 1950s and ’60s. For two decades, Pearlman and Ty enjoyed a sexually charged, progressive marriage, where they both worked and shared child-raising responsibilities; she even published a book on long-term sexual monogamy. Yet this domestic idyll slowly declined as Ty succumbed to temptation. Eventually Pearlman and Ty separate, unable to reconcile separate desires, and the epilogue shows the author cultivating a new relationship.

At times (especially after the not-terribly-startling revelation of Ty’s affair with his adoring, married art student) Pearlman’s memoir becomes repetitive and predictable, but she has a sharp eye for detail and is adept at expanding her discussion of infidelity’s pain and relationship-mutating qualities—pinpointing its effects on children, adult acquaintances, and even (in the case of her parents and grandparents) one’s history.