Sure, we ate well. Very well. Our refrigerator held, depending on the season: homemade gravlax, Strauss organic milk, salt-packed anchovies, little gem lettuces, preserved Meyer lemons, imported Parmesan, mozzarella and goat cheese, baby leeks, green garlic, Blue Bottle coffee ($18 a pound), supergroovy pastured eggs. On a ho-hum weeknight Dan might make me pan-roasted salmon with truffled polenta in a Madeira shallot reduction. But this was only a partial joy. Dan’s cooking enabled him to hide out in plain sight; he was home but busy — What? I’m cooking dinner! — for hours every evening. During this time I was left to attend to our increasingly hungry, tired and frantic children and to worry about money. That was our division of labor: Dan cooked, I tended finances. Because of the cooking, in part, we saved little for retirement and nothing for our children’s college educations.
I garnered no sympathy from our friends.
Best known for his nonfiction book on surfing, Caught Inside (1996), and a novel about mountain climbing,Looking for Mo (1998), Duane changes course here with an insular, painful story about the particular brand of heartbreak suffered by 28-year-old doctoral candidate Cassius Harper. After experiencing yet another torrid breakup, Cassius decides to give casual dating a try and falls into a comfortable arrangement with colleague Shauna, a vegetarian with a deep nurturing streak. Then he meets neurotic Joanie Artois, described as "raw sex on an oyster shell," and three dates later, he's a goner--despite the fact that she's emotionally abusive and expects to be wined and dined in high style. Cringe-inducing dialogue and tiresome theatrics go a long way toward making this a difficult read, but there's also humor in the way Harper struggles to reconcile the political correctness he must display in an academic setting with the S & M moves demanded by Joanie, and he can be brutally honest about his weakness for disturbed women. Touted as a read-alike for High Fidelity (1995), this may play better with Maxim fans.
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