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POSTCARDS FROM PINSK by Larry Duberstein


by Larry Duberstein

Pub Date: May 1st, 1991
ISBN: 1-877946-04-1
Publisher: Permanent Press

An exuberant account of a Boston psychiatrist whose wife leaves him, who then takes a roommate, and who later discovers that a late midlife crisis is better than none at all. In the late 80's, Orrin Summers, a Beacon Hill shrink in his late 50s, loses his composure when he receives a postcard from wife Gail with the news that she can no longer live with him. What to do (``Even God did not play God so openly—telling people what to do'')? Summers has lived a rather hermetic existence, and now he must begin to look around him. He visits his family—son Clyde, a professor, and his kids—and also takes a roommate, lawyer Eli Paperman (``Justice isn't abstract to me, or even relative. It's absolute, obvious, moral''), who is often away but otherwise ``organizing the tiniest detail of your life.'' After experiencing ``an intellectual renaissance''—notes , ideas, theories, possible papers—Summers finds satisfaction in visiting the Club—cigars, liquor, deep-backed chairs—and in playing the role of grandpa to Clyde's kids. Meanwhile, he investigates his daughter Elspeth's life—she's a rock star who lives in ``in utter Bohemian disrepair'' and who has a coke-dealing reggae drummer for a lover. Summers, of course, is learning to accept the world without manipulating it, and eventually he weathers a depression, as well as a stint in the hospital, and accepts the fact that Gail has flown the coop for good. By then, fortunately, Paperman's ex- girlfriend, Marcie Green, is available, and Summers finds happiness with her (or something resembling it). Sweet-natured—with a quaint hero whom Duberstein (Carnovsky's Retreat, The Marriage Hearse) handles with an appropriate wry tone. In all: an affectionate portrait of a lost soul who doesn't know it until he finds out for himself.