BENNETT'S ANGEL by Barton A. Midwood

BENNETT'S ANGEL

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A talky, philosophical, intriguing comic novel from Midwood (Bodkin, 1967; Phantoms, 1970): the story of a graduate student who's led by an enigmatic friend from intellectual rootlessness to a moral basis for action anchored in traditional Jewish values. At an Upstate New York college in 1959, graduate student David Bennett wakes up one morning and realizes that he's forgotten the previous night. Dimitri Leskov, friend and fellow student, will have the answer, he's sure. Meanwhile, discomfited by his amnesia, unable to contact Leskov, David performs that evening in a play he wrote--a ponderous philosophical melodrama--attended by his parents, from whom he is estranged. David leaves the cast party afterward with Leskov, who reveals that their mutual friend Fisher is a homosexual and is leaving his wife. After a confrontation with Fisher's wife, who accuses Leskov of fomenting the desertion, Leskov hints at David's behavior of the previous night. Still without an answer, David returns home to find Fisher awaiting. There follows a long conversation in Fisher's car, about Leskov's manipulative behavior, his impending death by exotic disease, and David's homosexual impulses, which now lead to lovemaking in the back seat. Returning home, David receives a call from Leskov's wife, informing him that Leskov is dead. Rushing to her side, David discovers that Leskov--long obsessed with Kant's question "What if all men were to do as I do?" and despite his seeming amorality and disdain for others--has been studying daily with Hasids, and every morning attended a sick woman, a selfless act of charity. David had accompanied him the night before, and now commits himself to helping the woman in Leskov's place, completely reframing the terms of his life. A neoconservative novel of ideas, finely written, but not likely to have wide appeal.

ISBN: 945167-15-6
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