Monday, May 28, 2012

Contrary Pleasure (1954)

Around this period in the middle-1950s JDM took a few shots at straight fiction instead of thrillers. This one came right after Cancel All Our Vows and traces a few weeks in the life of four grown-children and their spouses in an industrial town in upstate New York. They are all heirs to a failing textile factory, most with marital difficulties.

It's a beautifully written book in which most chapters could stand alone as short stories. There is no real central narrative drive and it hurts the book a little bit, with an abundance of navel-gazing from the multiple characters. Some of it, of course, is a little dated, especially a sequence dealing with a frigid wife. But there's an interesting character, the type of which I've never seen in a JDM book: a teenage boy who might have extreme Asperger's syndrome.

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