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Given the category--the louse-ups attending middle-aged wife-and-motherhood--Frank (Single, 1977) has run up a surprisingly happy-hearted entertainment. Her heroine is tall, usually cheerful, somewhat headlong but always coping Emma--a Los Angeles film-story analyst who has been recently chucked by tight-chapped husband Charles, a writer; Charles is trying to deal with the whither-whither crisis of his art and psyche by taking on an affair with a rather flaked-out younger woman. This leaves Erotica to contemplate solitude while becoming the sole supervision for her 17-year-old twin sons. But after a few ""sleepless nights and red-hot rages"" and a gray space, Emma meets Dr. Bartolome, psychiatrist and mentor of her mother's nursing home, a glorious mix of omni-appetites and a hurricane compulsion to aid the vulnerable: ""Big windy Bartolome. . . lifted Emma like wash snapping on a line."" And as for sex--""Was I mistaken,"" inquires the Grand B. in bed with Emma, ""or did I hear you cry out, 'Huzzah'?"" While Emma huzzahs, both sons are involving themselves in innocently wayward messes (one is being bedded by a friend of Emma's, a Hollywood agent with the body of a seacow). And Charles and Bartolome, now friends, discuss their plight (Charles would like to return to Emma) and join together for hang-glider jaunts, just to loose the spirit. Finally Bartolome gracefully opts out, the sons rally around, and hearth fires are lit. With some dandy cinema-biz caricatures and rippling dialogue abounding--not much to chew on, but a picnic nonetheless.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin