DOCTOR LOVE by Gael Greene

DOCTOR LOVE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The only slightly distinctive thing about this crass yet maudlin N.Y./Jewish sex-comedy is that it's written by a woman but focuses on a man: Dr. Barney Kincaid (nÉ Cohen), whose erotic adventures as a ""Jewish Prince"" should bring on heavy cases of dÉjà vu all over Manhattan. (The particular subgenre of this book goes back to Portnoy and Such Good Friends, with dozens of subsequent, lesser imitations.) Barney, currently divorced and dividing his bed-time between steamy TV news personality Debra and serene WASP Lindsay, has what seems to be a heart attack while working at his New Grace Hospital Emergency Room. It's actually just pericarditis. But, true to clichÉ, Barney's brush with mortality gives him a bad case of flashback-itis: memories of the major women in his sexual past. Moreover, once out of the hospital, Barney decides to track down each of these old flames: housemaid Margaret, who encouraged Barney's fondlings at age twelve (she's now a housewife in rollers); high-school sweetheart Barbara, who's now a gorgeous suburbs sex queen in California (she treats Barney like a sex object); nurse Lilyanne, from med-school days (Barney's search leads to a ""pig's heaven"" threesome with Lilyanne's daughter and a friend); now-elderly Aunt Cristal; etc. Meanwhile, too, Barney is adding to his Casanova list--primarily with actress/stripper Amber, who leads him to gross-outs at Plato's Retreat. And not surprisingly, he's soon falling apart physically and mentally, even slipping up at work--where he's always been an Emergency-Room perfectionist. But finally, unconvincingly transformed by this journey through his sex-life, Barney is now ready at last for real love, with maternal nurse Anne Mallory . . . who won't please Barney's stereotypical Jewish mother: ""He'd show her, Barney thought. He would marry a shiksa."" Greene (Blue Skies, No Candy) gets a few laughs here--from a pot-smoking rabbi, Debra's TV-news hijinks, and Barney's N.Y. precocious daughter. Most of the humor, however, is numbingly derivative: the Jewish-mother jokes, the WASP jokes, the sex-farce. (Most of the sex isn't comic at all, just laboriously pornographic.) A hospital-politics subplot is limply tacked in. (The ER action, on the other hand, is gorily effective.) And, most crucially, Barney is a two-dimensional composite, not a character. Wearisome doings, then, but with some obvious saleability for those attuned to the hard-core/glossy/soapy combination.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1982
Publisher: St. Martin's