FALSE MATCH by Henry Bean


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Self-dramatizing angst and sex and ennui in Berkeley--as would-be writer Harold Raab, 26 but essentially adolescent, keeps a journal of his numbing relationship with Charlotte, beautiful wife of a medical student. The affair begins because Harold, ""in an excess of fantasy, decides to have an affair with a woman he has never met. . . ."" So, when not filling his journal with detailed musings on his communal Berkeley house or masturbation, Harold slowly pursues virtual stranger Charlotte (whom he's heard about through a mutual friend), eventually seducing her into an intense bout of adultery: ""I am thinking of buying a chamber pot so we can piss and shit right here. I want to watch the turds open her anus and see the urine poise like rain on the fine branches of her nest. . . . We have virginal fucks; betrayal fucks; deadly, insect fucks""; etc. But soon, especially once Charlotte decides to leave her husband (himself unfaithful), Harold finds the relationship is a ""disease,"" full of hate and hostility. And then, apparently at a loss about how to end this formless first novel, Raab clumsily loads the end of the book with unearned melodrama: Charlotte, after VD, pregnancy, and a tubal ligation, becomes fatally ill with a liver infection. . . and it's up to Harold (supposedly, unconvincingly transformed) to ""pull the plug"" when she hovers near death with no hope of recovery. So: a few promising phrasings here and there--but self-indulgent, student-level work overall, with unappealing characters and smirky pseudo-eroticism.

Pub Date: Aug. 18th, 1982
Publisher: Poseidon/Pocket Books--dist. by Simon & Schuster