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 A promising if taxing debut by playwright Medoff (Children of a Lesser God, etc.) about a young Jewish playwright who does his best to make a mess of his life and then hangs in there long enough to sort it out. Jake Landau is an English grad student at Stanford when things start going wrong--or right (it's sometimes hard to tell which is which here)--and Leslie Ann Masterson, an aspiring actress, walks into his life. They glom onto each other as if Crazy Glued, but Jake notices some strange things: she wants him to sleep with her disabled friend, conceals her real name, and secretly meets with a car salesman who turns out to be her stepfather. Gradually the ugly truths dribble out--i.e., that Leslie Ann's mother committed suicide and that she was sexually abused by both her father and her stepfather. So, because Jake's too immature and Leslie Ann's simply too weird to handle a relationship, they split, with Jake going home to Miami Beach, where he gets engaged to an old girlfriend named Sandra while fending off a passel of crazy (and very funny) relatives. For a while Jake and Sandra try to make a life in the Southwest, where he's got a teaching job and his first play is produced. But both of them have affairs, and only the play prevails. It's moved to New York, where Medoff pulls off his hyperventilating climax--which includes the reappearance of Leslie Ann (about to deliver Jake's baby), good reviews for the show, and a revelation from Jake's dad about just how he spent the Holocaust. There's enough here for five years of a TV series, and a slight but insistent scent of therapy pervades. But Medoff's characters do have flesh on their bones, and his comic gift is undeniable. So if he gets a pair of shears and simplifies, his next book could be a joy.

Pub Date: June 11th, 1992
ISBN: 0-446-51597-3
Page count: 480pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1992