In the Family Way: An Urban Comedy

Schwartz, Lynne S.

Published by William Morrow
ISBN 10: 0688170714 / ISBN 13: 9780688170714
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Synopsis: Roy, a psychotherapist, and his first wife, Bea, a caterer, are the characters around which this hilarious and unpredictable novel revolves. The other players include their four children, their assorted friends and lovers, as well as Roy's subsequent two wives, one of whom he steals from a patient. Not to mention Bea's lover--the Russian imigri superintendent--her lesbian artist sister, and her caustic mother, the landlady of the chaotic building. Throughout the novel, Bea and Roy struggle to redefine the idea of family without giving up the fantasy of endless self-gratification. Entanglements, betrayals, couplings, and uncouplings abound, as each person seeks love and happiness in the free-for-all '90s. Roy, a psychotherapist, and his first wife, Bea, a caterer, are the characters around which this hilarious and unpredictable novel revolves. The other players include their four children, their assorted friends and lovers, as well as Roy's subsequent two wives, one of whom he steals from a patient. Not to mention Bea's lover--the Russian imigri superintendent--her lesbian artist sister, and her caustic mother, the landlady of the chaotic building. Throughout the novel, Bea and Roy struggle to redefine the idea of family without giving up the fantasy of endless self-gratification. Entanglements, betrayals, couplings, and uncouplings abound, as each person seeks love and happiness in the free-for-all '90s.

Review: Lynne Sharon Schwartz prefaces her urban comedy with this bit of wisdom: "The true narrative form of our time is the sitcom." In the Family Way, Schwartz's personal Three's Company, is populated by an extended Manhattan family who dwell in an Upper West Side apartment building like bees in a hive. Their queen is, appropriately enough, Bea, a wild-haired, warm-hearted, middle-aged caterer who once was married to Roy, a therapist. Roy, however, left her for cool Serena, who in turn left Roy for Bea's sister May. Now all live under the same roof, along with several of their children and Roy's third wife, Lisa, who is the math teacher of Roy and Bea's daughter Sara--who, incidentally, prefers to be called Shimmer. Bea is having an affair with the super, Dmitri, a Russian given to poetic flights which come thudding to earth when he misremembers his thesaurus. (He whispers ardently to her, "My love. My wild orchid. My landscape with the secret bog.") Meanwhile, Bea's mother, the landlady, is busily trying to lure Oscar, the doorman, into bed. Three of the tribe become pregnant, yielding a climactic three-babies-in-one-night set piece that caps a novel crowded with delightfully implausible coincidence.

Anyone familiar with Schwartz's exquisite Disturbances in the Field--unaccountably out of print--knows her to be a serious and ambitious novelist. So what's she doing in Full House territory? Writing a damned entertaining novel, that's what, and using comic form to comment caustically on the way we live now. Roy, for instance, tells himself, "as he often told his patients: Not all guilt is something you want to get rid of. Some guilt is justified--if, that is, you choose to inhabit a moral universe." Bea and her family earnestly want to live in a moral universe, but don't quite, and their ambivalence and guilt give Schwartz's frolic a sour, pungent undercurrent. It's the taste of reality's failures, and it turns out to be what sitcoms have been missing all along. --Claire Dederer

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Bibliographic Details

Title: In the Family Way: An Urban Comedy
Publisher: William Morrow
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good

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Schwartz, Lynne S.
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Book Description William Morrow. Hardcover. Condition: GOOD. Spine creases, wear to binding and pages from reading. May contain limited notes, underlining or highlighting that does affect the text. Possible ex library copy, that’ll have the markings and stickers associated from the library. Accessories such as CD, codes, toys, may not be included. Seller Inventory # 2930935671

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Book Description Morrow/Avon, New York, NY, U.S.A., 1999. Soft cover. Condition: Nr Fine. Uncorrected Proof. Only slight shelfwear. Size: Trade Pbk. Seller Inventory # 020334

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Book Description William Morrow, 1999. Hardcover. Condition: Good. Connecting readers with great books since 1972. Used books may not include companion materials, some shelf wear, may contain highlighting/notes, may not include cdrom or access codes. Customer service is our top priority!. Seller Inventory # S_209743287

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