WHY DO WOMEN WRITE MORE LETTERS THAN THEY SEND? by Darian Leader

WHY DO WOMEN WRITE MORE LETTERS THAN THEY SEND?

A Meditation on the Loneliness of the Sexes
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 An abstruse ``collage of observations and explanations'' about sexuality, whose British psychoanalyst author--inspired by the obscurantist Jacques Lacan--plays by his own rhetorical rules. Not for Leader (Lacan for Beginners, not reviewed) the conventions of serious argument: From the outset he promises lots of generalizations, commitment to questions rather than the systematic development of hypotheses, and an avoidance of authoritative footnotes or quotations. Thus licensed to zigzag with more imagination than discipline around some fertile psychosexual terrain, he seeks to excavate the deepest differences between men and women; mostly, however, he obfuscates tirelessly. Concerning jealousy, for example, he says that ``what a man is really jealous of is not another man but the sexuality of the opposite sex.'' Or on love, which for a man is ``ultimately addressed to a lack'' and for a woman is ``linked to the order of causality: The partner's lack must be guaranteed by her.'' Illustrations from the plot of an 18th-century Italian novel hardly make the preceding more accessible, although generally Leader finds support for his positions in skewed interpretations of more familiar literary and cultural references: the Audrey Hepburn role in Love in the Afternoon, the comedies of Shakespeare, even the marriage of Claudia Schiffer to magician and escape artist David Copperfield. As a woman, Leader writes, Schiffer must welcome the fact that part of the carnal appeal of her husband is ``the empty space left by his departure.'' Less surprising is Leader's linkage of a pregnant woman's food cravings with cannibalistic fantasies toward her child; ditto his explanation of why Virginia Woolf ``could never have a Room of her Own: Her father was always in there with her.'' He thrives on paradoxes: ``What . . . is the function of memory if not to allow us to forget?'' Madness over method, and defeatingly arcane.

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1997
ISBN: 0-465-09169-5
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1997