Five years into their marriage Naylor's husband Ted, convinced of the Communist menace in his university department, positioned himself at their living room window with a rifle. . . and ate the first bullet. It was the beginning of a siege against paranoia, and this grim reminiscence, fifteen years later, is her ultimate reckoning with that debilitating experience. Coming from ""the most ordinary family in the entire Midwest"" with a B average and a high school education, she played Sheilah Graham to his Fitzgerald, acquiring opinions on western culture and writing for podunk magazines. He was eight years older, a wunderkind Ph.D. candidate with an I.Q. of 184, pushed by a father who taught him to brush his teeth to a mental count of eighteen and a mother who took pride in her odorless excrement. Naylor recaptures the roller-coaster days in all their maddening unpredictability: moments of clarity and regret preceding feeble suicide gestures; circular arguments and center-of-the-universe delusions; lovemaking in the afternoon followed by a search for bugging devices in the bed springs. Eventually, after he outwitted the sanatarium therapists at $2000 per month, she shipped him back to his parents and filed for divorce, but not without consequences; today, with a healthy husband and two growing sons, she still can't pass the shower stall without expecting a hanging body. One wonders, in these days of instant relief, what regular doses of tranquilizers might have done for him but Naylor isn't second-guessing and her correspondence with his family stopped years ago. A difficult book to categorize: overdone in spots but essentially honest throughout, with enough inherent suspense to keep the pages turning to the closing view of a sadly wasted personality.