Julian Treslove

Introduced as a dreamer whose dreams are largely dramatic, romantic, and rather fatal, Julian Treslove is on the brink of change. Treslove refers to himself as an obsessive person who falls in love easily and with women he doesn’t even know. Morbidly, he envisions them dying in his arms as in a tragic Italian opera.

He has memorized the death arias of various operas, a fact which leads his ex-girlfriends to suggest that he is abnormally obsessed with death. Treslove does not disagree, but finds himself changed when he begins a relationship with a buxom Jewish woman, Hephzibah. The obsessive behavior does not go away for Treslove but is instead translated into a fixation on becoming Jewish.

A failure as a professional and a failure as a father, Treslove engages in a vague but insistent attempt to adopt Judaism as his religion, though he is not religious and not spiritual but merely emotional. Treslove’s romantic sentimentality is the driving force behind all of his decisions, including his decision to adopt Judaism.

Two ex-girlfriends give birth to his children, Rodolpho and Alfredo, who are now adults. Treslove largely ignores their existence. He claims to be the world’s worst father and his sons do not take issue with his self-assessment. Treslove’s biological role in the parenting of his two children is the only role allowed him by his ex-girlfriends who loathe Treslove. The derision they feel toward Treslove is communicated repeatedly both to Treslove himself and to his sons.

Like all of Treslove’s girlfriends before Haphzibah, the mothers of his children choose to leave Treslove despite his protestations of love. Treslove’s characteristic romantic sentimentality, coupled with his morbid obsessions, quickly sours nearly all of his romantic relationships.

Samuel (Sam) Finkler

Author of popular series of practical wisdom guides, Samuel Finkler is a widower, a television personality, and a mediocre father. Finkler is one of Treslove’s two friends, involved in a lifelong rivalry with Treslove waged on...

(The entire section is 872 words.)