THE STEPMAN by David Margolis

THE STEPMAN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 First novel about a man who flees a floundering marriage in search of his past. Abner Minsky drifts into San Francisco during the later days of flower power and, after going through a number of girlfriends, falls in love with a painfully indecisive woman, Lora. Abner fancies himself a poet who, like the Beats he admires, sees all the world reflected in ordinary things. When he's admitted to graduate school in Upstate New York, Lora and her two children reluctantly follow him. The couple then have a child of their own and settle into an impoverished, artistic, but more or less middle-class existence, with the gentle Abner trying hard to be a good stepdad. After ten years, though, the marriage has turned into the bleakly ordinary, with Abner at last aware that being a poet in American doesn't pay much, and facing the realization that he also isn't much of a poet. Meanwhile, Lora has become a committed feminist, so that she's continually railing at Abner for being uncaring, a chauvinist, etc. Confused, angry, he goes back to California, where he does some hard physical work and reconnects with old friends now living in a commune and trying (more or less) to remain true to their hippie ways. Before long, Abner makes a pass at someone else's old lady and gets tossed from the commune. Driving back to New York and Lora, Abner, somewhat the wiser, reflects ruefully that he's a ``man whose personality is so cemented in its place that change is impossible. Consider that there may be no happy ending.'' Indeed. Enough time has passed that Margolis's portrait of flower power San Francisco is entertaining, and he writes lyrically about ordinary love, capturing the way relationships can be eaten up by pettiness. But Abner's odyssey is rendered here in a fashion so exceedingly mundane that many readers will find themselves unmoved by Abner and Lora's woes.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 1-877946-76-1
Page count: 175pp
Publisher: Permanent Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1996