A DISTURBANCE IN ONE PLACE by Binnie Kirshenbaum


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 Set in New York, like its frivolous predecessor On Mermaid Avenue (1993), Kirshenbaum's second novel takes a semiserious look at adultery. ``I have broken seven of the Ten Commandments,'' the nameless heroine tells us, adding, ``Guilt does not prey on me. My sleep is that of the innocent.'' Guilt isn't the only thing her account lacks; the reader waits in vain for any sort of subtext to enrich the events being retold. The narrator for the most part simply relates how she balances her sex life and keeps a husband and two lovers simultaneously enraptured. The acts themselves are neither erotic nor graphic, alternating between leaky bed play and out-of- body float. Lover number one, called the Hit Man, is a handsome Sicilian-American professor of history who publishes books about Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, lives in Little Italy, cooks, and snaps his paramour into firecracker orgasms; although he knows she's married, he wants her to be all his. Number two, ``the love of my life,'' is a multimedia artist: nothing to look at, with Nazi numbers tattooed on his forearm, and a drag in bed--quite monochromatic. Left-handed, half-Jewish (she denies her paternal Methodist heritage) and apparently jobless by choice, the protagonist can't cook, sew, or clean house. What she can do is help her mainly offstage husband with the Sunday Times crossword puzzle and serve her lovers a creamy dish of vagina Alfredo. She's an expert as well on oral love and erections, and when the artist fails to rise, she tells him, `` `It's never happened with my other men friends.' I don't want him getting any ideas that I could have anything to do with this, that I am the emasculating queen, the wicked witch of Limpland waving my craggy wand over once rigid cocks, turning them to jelly.'' Juicy sexual history, but mysteriously un-nourishing.

Pub Date: April 18th, 1994
ISBN: 0-88064-157-6
Page count: 208pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1994


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