Subtle evocations of lives shadowed by sadness and disappointment but saved by love—in two novellas by the late Summers (Standing Room, 1984, etc.). ``I walk a tightrope,'' asserts Ben Adams (in ``Helen'') as he begins to type his story at his lakeside cabin. ``I suppose every man walks a tightrope between sanity and depression, or perhaps desperation is a kind of sanity.'' Ben, an admitted Victorian, feels that he's been drowning in the stifling order of his monogrammed life—``A.V.A. the percale sheets say, Our lives monogrammed.'' Married to the exhaustingly capable Anita, whose favorite response is ``beautiful,'' Ben feels alienated as well from his relentlessly cheerful family, scarred by an unhappy childhood, and bored by his work—certainly not the stuff of tragedy, these smaller griefs of everyday life, though no less wearing in their effects.
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