WALKING DISTANCE by Marian Thurm

WALKING DISTANCE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A first novel from short-story writer Thurm (Floating, 1983)--a delicate, domestic tale of a young mother who falls in love with a dying man. Laura, a 30-ish Manhattan woman, has Mia, a four-year-old charmer of a daughter, and Zachery, a much-loved husband. She is a mother and a free-lance reader for a magazine, and life in her East Side apartment is as happy as her childhood was chaotic. Then, walking her daughter across the street to school one day, she notices a youngish man sitting in a lawn chair in front of the building next door. He, David, beckons to her, and tells her plainly that he is dying of leukemia, and that he is infatuated with her. She is rocked to the soul by his direct appeal; shortly, she is drawn into an affair. They meet every day, thanks to the tolerance of her husband, the tortured avoidance of David's wife Barbara, and the stony denial of his teenage son, Ethan. We glimpse Barbara's grief through her affair with a lawyer she's met at a rerun of The Graduate. There is also the heartwarming, on-again-off-again courtship of Laura's grandmother, Sylvia, to one Morgan Silverstein, recently widowed, a moneyed old man who battles Sylvia's crusty, Yiddish-peppered independence with a love as durable as time. Laura, however, becomes pregnant by her husband, and with the birth of the child--as David's days wind down--she ends the affair. Thurm manages a light, expert touch for the bumpy, fragmentary details of daily life; never veering into melodrama, she knows how a book can be the more provocative by being discreetly quiet about its material--and seem more intelligent for what is left unsaid. Interesting, appealing work from a very fine writer.

Pub Date: April 13th, 1987
Publisher: Random House