MEN ON DIVORCE by Penny Kaganoff

MEN ON DIVORCE

The Other Side of the Story
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Presented as a counterpart to the editors' previous volume, Women on Divorce (which will be reissued in paperback simultaneously with this hardcover publication), here are 15 entirely disparate takes by men, among them Edward Hoagland and Stephen Dobyns. Nearly all the contributors lay claim to suffering, some to real learning. For Ted Solotaroff, ``Getting the Point'' meant doing more than just getting on with life, as men are trained to do; he manages to sound becomingly self-aware (``She had to deal with the isolation of the single woman while I had only to pick up the phone to become an available man''), rather than platitudinously self-conscious, as the flagellations of the younger set do. The most writerly voice belongs to John A. Williams, who left his family despite his promising upward mobility in post-GI- bill Syracuse and his vow that he'd never do what his father did, because he yearned for something ``audacious'' in life: The ``compulsion to leave was greater than the will to stay.'' Almost half the contributors cite what their parents did as influential: Benjamin Cheever blames his dad's drinking for his early impulse to marry (and his dad's quitting, whereupon he could go home again, for his impulse to divorce); Luis Rodriguez roots his addictions and abusive rages in his family's emigration from Mexico and their ensuing marginalization in L.A.; Walter Kirn, whose parents didn't break up until after he himself was married, confirms that ``when the rug is pulled out from under you emotionally, it isn't necessarily an advantage to be standing on your own two feet.'' Divorce registers differently in Italy, per Tim Parks's chronicle of a friend's intoxicating affair, and in Japan, where self- fulfillment American style doesn't come easily, as Richard Gilman and his current wife discovered at great cost. But self-examination is the same everywhere, as these essays too often attest. (First serial to the New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, Redbook)

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 1997
ISBN: 0-15-100115-4
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1996




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