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DIVORCE by George Feifer

DIVORCE

An Oral Portrait

By George Feifer

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-56584-272-3
Publisher: New Press

 Dreary self-serving portraits of failed marriages and their messy ends. Feifer, whose last book was on the battle for Okinawa (Tennozan, 1992), sees parallels between military combat and divorce. Twice a survivor of divorcehis own and his parents'Feifer found dozens of fellow survivors willing, in fact eager, to share their memories of the experience. Twelve divorced women and twelve divorced men, plus one man currently going through a divorce, give their versions of what happened, and two children of divorced parents tell how they felt about it. Speakers range from the freshly divorced to those for whom it is ancient history, the working poor to the affluent, those whose marriages lasted only a few years to those married for decades, but all share a common theme of pain, grief, and anger. Mixed in with these unhappy stories are the points of view of various professionals: two marriage counselors, a social worker, a social demographer, two divorce lawyers, a law professor, two judges, and a divorce mediator. The lawyers seem mostly concerned with defending their profession, but the others take a broader view of divorce as a social problem. One judge recommends that the courts be turned to only after reconciliation, therapy, and mediation have been tried. Another cautions people to look for a family lawyer with the skills of a negotiator and mediator, one who ``makes peace instead of war.'' Feifer, who makes no claims to inclusiveness or authority, does not insert himself in these conversations except for an occasional question, but his introduction and his choice of voices makes it clear that he sees divorce as a destructive, adversarial process for which alternatives are available. Slow, tedious, and devoid of fresh insights.