INCONCEIVABLE by Ben Elton

INCONCEIVABLE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

British funnyman Elton (Blast From the Past, 1999, etc.) offers a mostly unfunny take on the travails of infertility treatment.

Sam is a comedy producer for the BBC (a grim business, apparently), and he’s not particularly pleased when his wistful wife, Lucy, begins attempting to conceive in earnest. But rather than actually talk to each other, the spouses confide their feelings and frustrations in his-and-hers journals. Glumly contemplating a sex life dictated by the rise and fall of the mercury in an ovulation thermometer, Sam is not in the least cheered by Lucy’s alternative approaches: aromatherapy, Druidical rites, visualizations, gorilla adoption, positive thinking, and so forth. He goes along with it all, though—albeit with no success—because he loves her. The couple’s increasing desperation takes its inevitable toll on their marriage, and lots of feeble jokes about turkey basters and petri dishes don’t liven things up any. Bored and irritable, Sam decides to write a screenplay about their experience, but he betrays Lucy by cribbing the best bits from her journal without telling her. He sells the screenplay, which goes into production with Sam at the helm. When Lucy finds out, she dumps him and runs straight into the arms of a virile if vain actor who gets her pregnant at last. The actor proves to be passing fancy, but when she miscarries Lucy vows to try again—this time as a single mother, given the men she knows. Yet she and Sam reunite at the movie’s premiere and head for the chalk hills of Dover for still another odd rite, this one involving a giant chalk phallus carved into a verdant slope centuries ago.

Elton’s chatty, frenetic style only emphasizes the underlying sourness of this dreary little tale: it’s just not the kind of humor that travels well.

Pub Date: Dec. 5th, 2000
ISBN: 0-385-33465-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Delta
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2000




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