Love and Marriage

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The point of Bill Cosby’s LOVE AND MARRIAGE is simply this: If playfulness and respect temper love and sex, romantic relationships should thrive. Here is age-old wisdom--common sense--Cosby-style (snappy quick shots) and trotted out as a cross between psychobabble and half-witty memoir. It is slapstick vaudeville recycled, with commentary on such compatibility stressors as husbands leaving shoes strewn about the rug: “Do you ever trip over the coffee table?” asks Cosby. “No, but--” replies his wife, Camille. “And you never trip on the dog or the children. But you trip on my shoes,” says Cosby. “Well, first of all, I always know where the coffee table is,” says Camille.

Cosby illustrates other lessons of married life with anecdotes from his own life. One amusing section of the book discusses wives’ shifting attitudes toward their spouses’ sleeping habits. Cosby recalls the early days of his marriage when “no physical position, no matter how awkward, was anything but enchanted entanglement.” After many years of marriage, however, Cosby’s idea of heavenly comfort prompts Camille’s snappy retort, “Well, I’m in a much lower region. ... I’ll just lie here and work on my soul because suffering is supposed to be good for it.”

Cosby avoids discussing the stuff of which divorces are usually made, and sticks to the kinder and gentler foibles of human experience, the little love quarrels that create cute anecdotes, that cause automatic chuckles, and that should sell well as harmless (if seamless) armchair philosophy.