Norma Klein C.D.B. Bryan - Essay

C.D.B. Bryan

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

There is an unmistakable flatness to ["Love and Other Euphemisms"]…. The euphemisms she writes about are "marriage," "divorce," "separation," "affairs," "engagements," but none of the characters seem convincingly alienated or bitter or agonized or angry enough to want to refer to "love" euphemistically. They are all too polite.

Her collection contains one novella, "Pratfalls," and five short stories, three of which to all intents and purposes are about the same sort of Jewish girl as Rachel Ovcharov Wittiker, the heroine of the novella, who wants to be interesting, wants to have people talk about her, but who instead of making things happen waits for things to happen. (p. 31)

Her strengths as a writer lie in her obviously good eye for detail but her weakness is her characters. In "Magic" the girl spends the weekend with her prospective in-laws, a brother-in-law who has had a nervous breakdown and not thoroughly recovered, and the tensions that one is to believe are created by the banality of her anticipated surroundings are enough to make the girl want out. But who says she deserves any better? In "An American Marriage" a couple decide to consult separate analysts before calling an end to their marriage. And the girl, while at her analyst's office, says, "God, make me a more interesting neurotic." Amen. In "Apocalypse at the Plaza" a wife calls her ex-husband and invites him to lunch with her now-husband. It is...

(The entire section is 506 words.)