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Billed with brouhaha as a novel about love between men and women, men and men, and fathers and children, Robert Robin's fiction debut tells the story of Joel Stern's affair with his Harvard Law School roommate Ted Stackler 16 years after it's over. Joel has married Catherine, fathered two boys, become a prosperous Chicago lawyer, cut off all contact with homosexual friends. Stunned by news of Ted's death from a heart attack at 39, he's more stunned to learn from his wife that Ted had done what he hadn't--namely, had told her about their love affair. The remaining 18 chapters splice memories from the past with emotional entanglements around Ted's funeral, leading to Joel's making love with Ted's last lover, Doug Field, to Doug's becoming a friend of the family, and to Joel and Catherine's reconciliation. It's hard to believe that this book is being published in 1985. It purports to be responsible, but it's written with sentimental klutziness (""It took time for me to think of women's hose as stuffed with flesh and where a woman's legs joined, it was smooth and not bulky--different than a man""). And the condescension toward homosexuality is offensive. Everyone in the book regards it as illicit--including the gays themselves who want the straights to become ""understanding."" The wooden figures that pretend not only to sleep together but also to celebrate Chanukah in Hebrew are middle-class stereotypes down to ""the thin Lamy ball-point pen that wrote in three colors."" It would take a skilled director-editor to make a film as effective as Ordinary People or Kramer vs. Kramer out of this emotional mud, because most of the characters are already typecast, like Ted's father Henry: ""His eyes were far from his chin, a long way for tears to fall.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1985
Publisher: Simon & Schuster