James R. Frakes

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 174

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[David, the protagonist of "The Married Lovers," a "journal of high-fashion angst," wants] everybody to learn not to be frightened of each other. The sense of fear actually structures this disturbing novel. The sense of fear seems to be the cause of everything—the ecology movement, communes, drugs, marital distancing, Kent State, Bangladesh, and the screwed-up Paris peace talks. No mention of Watergate.

Not only do all the characters think and speak in epigrams, but they all make speeches at each other—in letters, phone conversations, doctor-patient colloquies, confessional narratives of stark horror. From these speeches emerges a list of things about which we know nothing: sex, marriage, suicide, "life," conception, children, women, existence, and why people do what they do….

The final near affirmation (off to Maine to fix the roof and walk along the beach and air the blankets!) is hard-earned and honestly tentative but sadly unpersuasive.

James R. Frakes, "Fiction: 'The Married Lovers'," in The New York Times Book Review (© 1973 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), September 16, 1973, p. 4.

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