IN THE FLESH by Hilma Wolitzer


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. . . the flesh of Paulette, sometime poet, and Howard, a sax player of ""special dark beauty. . . a cross between Bugsy Siegel and Delmore Schwartz,"" who were married in 1957--in the days before legalized abortion. Although Howard was guilt-roaded into instant domesticity 19 floors up in Queens, he is still a magical partner in the nuptial bed and demonstrates an admirable ""dogged loyalty."" Paulette's account swaggers and quips joyously on as she records days of a magnificent obsession with love--delivering a poem or two and then a brace of babies, pouring out the golden OJ on Sunday mornings, exchanging nighttime confessions (they couldn't afford analysts), and drowning out marital rows next door with halooing bed springs. But then Paulette finds she can't squeeze out both poetry and diapers; Howard's manic first wife visits; and there's that dream of Howard's in which the whole family burps up while Howard merely watches. Next come anonymous letters heralding the intrusions of ""Mrs. X,"" and Howard is packing and mumbling about how he feels he's leading ""someone else's life."" Paulette copes with desertion by posing for a life class and taking a young lover (whom the children adore), but Howard and Paulette float back together--and into the suburbs--after she stabs him with an apple corer (which Howard wonderingly interprets as an act of love). The author of the more solemn Endings assumes a jab-and-wallop comic stance to front for the hardening arteries of a marriage, injecting some high protein into a fast commercial market.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1977
Publisher: Morrow