THE DANGEROUS HUSBAND by Jane Shapiro

THE DANGEROUS HUSBAND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Trading the Jersey suburbs of her acclaimed debut, After Moondog (1992), for the brownstones of Brooklyn, Shapiro outdoes herself to pull off an absorbing black comedy again featuring an excruciatingly muddled marriage. Here, though, as far as the bewildered bride is concerned, it’s one that quickly winds up like being on death row with every appeal exhausted. When they meet at a Manhattan dinner party, the chemistry is perfect: she (nameless) is a lonely photographer struggling to make ends meet; he, Dennis, a recently fired sociologist now working on a novel, is lonely, too—but rich. So they move in together in his brownstone and soon marry. Her photographic chronicle of the early days shows the usual blissful postcoital images, but as weeks turn into months, bruises and bandages begin to appear on both of them, and the daily routine outside the frame increasingly comes to resemble a nightmare. More than clumsy, more than messy, more than weird—more than terrifying—Dennis’s every movement leaves wreckage in its wake. In response, his spouse tries first to deny, then to cope, to no avail. When Dennis accidentally drops an iron skillet on her big toe, putting her on crutches and costing her an out-of-town photo assignment, she begins to think in terms of self-defense. By chance, she soon runs across a novelist moonlighting as a hit man, and makes arrangements to put Dennis out of her misery. She can’t go through with it, though, and so runs away instead, taking his pet albino frog with her. Lonely again, she goes back home after a week, but matters get only worse: first, the frog, then the cat, then the dog meet untimely ends, and when Dennis breaks her arm she knows with chilling certainty that it’s finally come down to her or him. Such goings-on have rarely been so outrageously, horribly funny and yet so eerily familiar: this is writing at its most nuanced and exquisite. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-316-78247-5
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2000