LYING IN BED by J.D. Landis


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 Pretentious ``psychosexual thriller'' from former longtime editor and publisher (Morrow) and children's writer Landis: a book being promoted as a first novel, though the author has published other adult fiction under pseudonyms. The narrator, Johnny, is a filthy-rich 32-year-old New Yorker who spends most of his time waiting for his wife, Clara, to come home from her job as antique-quilt saleswoman. His only former ambition was to be rhetorician, which may explain his forced use of archaic words and puns (``illaqueated in the lepid net of language,'' etc.). Having failed at his one chosen ambition, he spent a whole year without speaking until he met Clara. Now, as the story opens, she's not yet home, and so we're treated to the narrator's immense erudition on such subjects as Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Bach and Shostakovich. Johnny also tells us that before he met his wife he had had sex only once, and then only for the knowledge of the act. He met Clara after finding her coded diary--which, like any other intellectual challenge, he easily mastered; cracking the code enabled him to track her down. When a Chinese-takeout delivery man, who is also a violin student, brings by food, Johnny lures him in to play his--Johnny's--priceless violin. Wowed, Johnny inexplicably kills the deliveryman, then proceeds to dig up Clara's diaries--from which he'll quote at length. What they show is why she wound up in New York (she ran away from home after discovering that her father was taking secret photographs of her fooling around with boys). They also reveal glimpses of a torrid marital sex life that the reader isn't privy to but that Johnny has also hinted at. Toward the end of the evening, Clara comes home to a welcoming--if hardly steamy--hug, thus ending this misguided effort. Much ado, in sum, about very little, and far more artificial than pulsing. (First printing of 25,000)

Pub Date: May 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-56512-068-X
Page count: 296pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1995


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