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A depressing, plotless first novel about the tentative romance of two lonelyhearts from Baltimore. Kim and Benjamin have been sleeping in Benjamin's bed for some months, but they're in no hurry to make love. Kim, you see, has an ugly, disfiguring scar, the result of open-heart surgery five years before, about which she is so self-conscious that she wears T-shirts even in the swimming pool; and Benjamin, in turn, has become obsessed about what he calls ""the creek."" The 23-year-old Kim and the 41-year-old Benjamin (don't forget that age gap) met at the Japanese restaurant where Kim was the only Caucasian waitress. Benjamin, a salesman, was pretty down at the time because his wife Mary Jude had left him (""a thousand Benjamins couldn't make me happy anymore""), and he knew it was his fault: he was the one who, certain he'd be a poor father, had refused to make babies. Actually, Benjamin's emotional problems (and those of his brother Phinney) began when they were teen-agers, when their father (who had unintentionally induced their mother's fatal heart attack) committed suicide. Phinney behaved erratically and was institutionalized; Benjamin got off with antidepressant pills. But back to the present: what to do with the reluctant lovers, neither of whom, obviously, is playing with a full deck? The author sends them out on the road to Nebraska for a visit with the celibate Phinney (""Who wants to date someone like me? I'm too much of a burden""); then puts them back in Baltimore, where they do make love but remain undecided about their future. However, one thing's for sure: Benjamin and ex-wife Mary Jude (now remarried and pregnant) will always be, yes, best friends. How often have you read ""not for the squeamish""? Well, finally, here's a story for the squeamish, just for them.

Pub Date: April 18th, 1990
ISBN: 1596928824
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly--dist. by Little, Brown