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Anatomy of a rape case--and another outing for George Thomassy, the Westchester bachelor lawyer who has appeared in two other of Stein's increasingly sensationalized dockets. Everyone here gets to narrate from his or her point of view, and Stein works hard--too hard, it often seems--at differentiating the voices. Rape victim Francine, smart and rich and beautiful, bitterly describes the assault by her apartment-building neighbor, a gas-station owner, and becomes increasingly frustrated with the law's inability to get quick revenge (""I don't know what you people expect of women!""), especially after a second attempted double-rape by the initial attacker and a friend. The rapist himself talks dumb and dirty--describing, gratuitously, a threesome with his wife and that friend, and later, in prison, his all-too-predictable rape (ah, poetic justice) by fellow prisoners. And, most extraneously, Francine's analyst bewails his hopeless lust for Francine (""Look at me behind you a man of sixty with a thick bulge in his pants from watching and wanting you""). But Francine's lawyer-lover Thomassy is the principal narrator, covering both the legal wrangles and his hot affair with Francine. A festival of lust, in fact--is Stein saying we're all rapists at heart? Let's hope not. But whether or no, the general aura of commercial luridness cancels out any intended seriousness here; and, though some of the overheated melodrama is lively--at one point the analyst throws a dart in a robber's eye to protect his fries from a ruthless defense lawyer--the key characters, especially liberated Francine, remain thoroughly unsympathetic. So these nearly 400 pages of naturalistic monologue and dialogue, vivid enough but unfocused, neither highlight the social issues nor convincingly humanize them.

Pub Date: Jan. 8th, 1978
ISBN: 0595350089
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich