AFTER MOONDOG by Jane Shapiro


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 Just when you thought you never wanted to read one more suburban divorce saga, Shapiro's wry and affectionate first novel comes along, bringing new life to an old story. It all begins in 1965, when Joanne Green, age 20, stands on a New York City street corner talking to a local character named Moondog and a law student, William, whom she's just met. After their chat with Moondog, William and Joanne go out for coffee. The rest, as they say, is history. It's a 25-year history that, superficially, could belong to many people: marriage, two children, a move to New Jersey, extramarital affairs, divorce, troubles with adolescent children and aging grandparents. But it's Joanne's version of this history--wise, darkly funny, never self-pitying- -that makes it all her own. Without missing a beat, she can juxtapose the early days after William has moved out and she drifts from room to room looking for him ``as if he were something I'd mislaid'' with the experience of watching her cat get neutered by a veterinarian who's whistling ``Moon River.'' She can appreciate her children's beauty as they grow into teenagers who live secret, dangerous lives, involving fast cars, dark nights, and not infrequent throwing up. She can forge a bond with her tiny, chic, pink-haired mother, Lolly, who does her best to keep everyone at arm's length. And finally, inevitably, there is William. The man she cannot stop fighting with. The man who is always there in times of family crisis. The man who used to tap dance around the kitchen. What Shapiro makes clear is that a marriage has no statute of limitations, and, if we're honest, no divorce is ever really final. Scenes from a marriage, snapshot sharp--not even divorce can blur the focus.

Pub Date: July 7th, 1992
ISBN: 0-15-193096-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1992