TWO TO TANGO by Jonathan Pearlman


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 Shticks and moans: the slight, familiar midlife crisis of 38- year-old actor Benjamin West--an overgrown adolescent who can't make the Big Commitment to his girlfriend. The one somewhat distinctive element in Ben's half-jokey, half-maudlin narrative is that he recently helped his ailing father to commit suicide (pills and a plastic bag). But first-novelist Pearlman doesn't treat this subject with any depth or nuance--it's just one more thing for Ben to kvetch about. And the other bits and pieces here are standard, vaguely dated fare. Ben, who's had success on a TV series, wonders whether or not to audition for a new Mamet play on Broadway. He tries to pick up a girl in a bar with such suave lines as ``I love the way your skirt hugs your ass.'' He recalls his Brooklyn childhood, masturbation, early sexual experiences. He visits the house where his parents lived-- and imagines that the dead mother and father have returned for a cute-sentimental chat with him. He learns that his brother in Chicago has testicular cancer. And, primarily, he resists pressure from girlfriend Jessica to settle down, grow up, get married, make a baby--until intimations of mortality finally (in a stick-on happy ending) end Ben's serious case of arrested development. Pearlman comes up with a few bright lines, and the show-biz atmosphere occasionally rings true. Otherwise: a limp mixture of generic Jewish-family material, weak X-rated stand-up comedy (with a misogynistic edge), and unpersuasive coming-of-age dramatics.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-671-77657-6
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1992