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In chunks of crowded, raw recall: the story of a shattering, out-of-the-closet marital break-up. Laura's lower-middle-class Jewish family rented their small Queens fiat from Pete Basse's deli-owning folks. And it was kind, fascinatingly blue-eyed Pete who always walked Laura to school. At their graduation party, Laura and Pete first tried sex. Then came the war years, Pete's return, their marriage, law school and practice for Pete, children, and the inevitable move to the suburbs. Laura was ever the good wife and mother--helping husband and children, asking for help when Pete could not give it. She remained ""clean and thin,"" returned to school, learned a profession. Alternating with these backward glances, titled ""Before"" (and written in the third person), are sections titled ""After""--when Laura, bewildered, first hears Pete mention separation and then demand that their life together come to an end. The reason, tortuously revealed: Pete is a homosexual and has a lover. Laura is devastated: ""It was not his homosexuality. . . [but] his withdrawal, his lack of concern for the terror flooding me."" She traces the stages of her shock, horror, and grief; the shame of disclosing the truth to family and friends; the trepidation about the reaction of their three grown sons. Two will be cautiously dutiful but distant; the other will reject his father with hatred and rage. Laura herself has two love affairs but still yearns for meetings with Pete. And, at the youngest son's wedding, Pete, ""dead to us,"" is isolated and avoided. I ""seemed to be the only one left who wanted to remember him. I could not learn to unlove him."" Affecting in its more contemplative moments, but harsh and ungainly in its anger and hurt.

Pub Date: Feb. 3rd, 1981
Publisher: Morrow