AN EXCEPTIONAL MAN by Michael Blankfort


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Eric Weston, a famous Los Angeles psychoanalyst, divorced, 60-year-old author of many books promoting honest and adventurous sexuality, is asked by his grown daughter Martha, who fives in New York, to take on a new patient--Martha's artist friend Helene, who is coming West to live. But Helene turns out to be a psychological stalking horse: Eric finds himself attracted to the young woman, but nothing in comparison to what he feels when daughter Martha herself comes out to share his apartment in Marina del Rey for a few months. Though he's been a shadowy presence in her life since he divorced her mother, Eric is an object of sexual desire for Martha--and the quickly vice-versa feelings are eventually acted upon by father and daughter. Will Eric (who narrates) be the ""exceptional"" man Freud spoke of in certain letters, the man for whom incest will not carry the guilt of a taboo broken? Blankfort makes the analyst's expertise (""It was clear that a repressed masochistic guilt lay in the unconscious: the stone in her stomach, clearly a dead child, she, herself"") powerless against the pulls and revulsions of the genetic prohibition; and this sets up the only real tension in a novel that is slow to get going, rushed once it does, and predictably resolved. Yes, this is a tasteful and serious incest book, but it's also a dull one (despite some touching moments, especially Eric's visit to his dying mentor)--without the intensity that Blankfort's better fiction (Take the A Train) often supplies.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Atheneum