MOTHERS AND SONS by Paul Hond

MOTHERS AND SONS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Soggy second novel after Hond’s witty debut (The Baker, 1998), this one about a rapidly aging twentysomething who writes unproduceable plays and can’t settle down to anything or with anyone.

Moss Messinger lives in a cheap Manhattan apartment where he's bothered and shat upon by pigeons in the airshaft, eludes commitment to his gorgeous, tenderhearted girlfriend Danielle (a nurse, oddly willing to nurture the insistently needy Moss), and maintains via continental divide a détente with his (also gorgeous) mother Nina, a jazz pianist living in Europe with her husband and fellow musician Anton. Worried that Moss needs her, Nina flies to America. Anton cheats on her, confesses, they break up, and Nina re-returns to NYC to live with Moss, who's recently sans Danielle, thanks to his somewhat surly reaction to her unexpected pregnancy. Enter Moss's “Super Yuppie” friend Boris (who has struck it rich running “an online fertility agency called LittleEinsteins.com”), who admires Nina's chops, and, Dear Reader, we have a second pregnancy on our hands. Unmanned by Nina’s unmotherly (though, come to think of it, quite literally maternal) behavior, Moss retreats with the understandably conflicted Boris to the latter’s posh summer place in Maine, only to return (after accidentally torching the place) for an LA meeting with movie execs interested in one of his scripts (an unlikely development, given the perhaps intentionally funny summaries of them Hond provides), then a final, risibly bittersweet Moment of Bonding with The New Arrival. It’s probably a credit to Hond’s sense of humor (if not shame) that, having concocted this blithely ridiculous plot, he doesn't know how to develop it. Only in the increasingly rare moments when Moss’s hangdog, everybody-hates-me humor threatens to turn him into a credible character does this novel—despite its thudding emphasis on conception and birth—come to life.

A mistake that Hond really ought to have aborted.

Pub Date: April 12th, 2005
ISBN: 0-375-50805-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2005