LIFE IN A MARITAL INSTITUTION by James Braly

LIFE IN A MARITAL INSTITUTION

Twenty Years of Monogamy in One Terrifying Memoir

KIRKUS REVIEW

A comedic memoir of one man’s dual struggles to cope with a dying sister and a marriage in turmoil.

Adapted from his popular monologue of the same title, Braly’s debut balances perilously on the fine line between humor and heartbreak. Forced to face his sister Kate’s terminal breast cancer, Braly headed to Houston, where observing her demise prompted reflection on his own life. Though Kate had previously endured various bouts of cancer (so many, in fact, that Braly dubbed her “The Sister Who Cried Metastasized Breast Cancer Wolf”), it soon became evident that this particular cry was, in fact, Kate’s last. In an effort to squeeze out every last drop of joy available to her, Kate demanded a deathbed wedding, hauling her fiance and a preacher to her hospice room so she could die married to the man she loved. Juxtaposed alongside this grand gesture is Braly’s reflection on his own unconventional love story. As an undergraduate, his first interaction with his future wife, Jane, involved her snatching his recently composed poem and brashly correcting it—an act Braly called “the most irritating, irresistible thing a woman has ever done to me.” So begins a love story told warts and all, one in which family dysfunction takes second place behind only marital dysfunction. “I’ve been to thirteen marriage counselors,” Braly writes. “And the last twelve sounded a lot like the first one: I can’t help you; go home and get your affairs in order; your marriage is terminal.” Even as the author’s marriage unravels on the page, the jokes keep coming, his comedy routine leaving precious little time for grief.

A humorous take on marriage and death, though honest introspection is often lost in the laughter.

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-312-60728-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2013




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