BEFORE, DURING, AFTER by Richard Bausch

BEFORE, DURING, AFTER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The horror of 9/11 intersects with the horror of rape in this latest from Bausch (Something Is Out There, 2010, etc.).

Natasha Barrett and Michael Faulk meet at a dinner party in the Washington, D.C., suburbs. She’s the top aide to a Republican senator; he’s an Episcopal priest in Memphis. Natasha’s still recovering from the messy end of an affair; Faulk’s been bruised by a divorce. There’s an age gap (she’s 32, he’s 48), but love leaps across it; they will marry and leave their professions. Natasha isn’t credible as a political animal; Faulk has lost “something unnameable” in carrying out his pastoral duties. The future looks rosy (Faulk’s trust fund will cushion them), but hard times are coming for this pleasant, fuzzily defined couple. It’s September 2001. Faulk is in New York for a friend’s wedding and has mentioned visiting the twin towers. Natasha is vacationing in Jamaica with Constance, an older woman, when the news breaks. Is Faulk safe? The phones are down; Natasha is frantic. She starts drinking heavily, as do the other hotel guests. On the beach at night, she allows a handsome Cuban-American a kiss. Things get out of hand; he rapes her. She can’t confide in the cynical Constance, who’s seen that consensual kiss but not the aftermath. By the time she reunites with Faulk in Memphis, she’s a nervous wreck. Bausch faithfully reproduces the high anxiety of the time, having us ponder the irony that strangers, rubbed raw, confide in each other while Natasha, consumed by irrational guilt, cannot confide in her darling Faulk, who knows something is terribly wrong. As the situation drags on, it’s hard not to become impatient with Bausch’s failure to force a resolution.

Disappointing; the 9/11 material is a distraction from Bausch’s core story: the plight of the rape victim.

Pub Date: Aug. 12th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-307-26626-2
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2014




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