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Urban Bliss
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When avant-garde Manhattan theater director Babette Bliss, ``a hot-blooded, uninhibited, aggressive Jewish girl from the Bronx,'' learns that her husband, George, a corporate lawyer, has just had an affair with blonde fellow attorney Nicole Burden, she walks out, refusing to speak to him despite his prostrate pleas to reconcile. Babette's rage, vengeful impulses and hurt and confusion, as well as her ambivalent urge to become a mother at age 35, are sensitively explored in this wholly engaging tale. Eidus, a novelist ( Faithful Rebecca ) and short-story writer ( Vito Loves Geraldine ), creates memorable comic characters throughout. Babette's spouse, George Harrison, looks like his ex-Beatle namesake and tries to woo Babette back with Beatles tunes. Shara-Rose, her blunt, leather-clad psychotherapist, is lead singer in the rock band Mild Neurosis. And Babette's new roommate, playwright Carlos Carlos (a Connecticut-born WASP who assumed a Latino name to rebel against his minister father) tries to lure her into bed by asking her to collaborate on his new play, Hard-Boiled Women , about a tough, assertive female detective. Narrated by Babette in clean-cut, present-tense prose, this is a ruefully funny, wickedly observant take on urban angst. (June)

In this up-to-the-minute urban tale, New Yorker Babette Bliss is on summer vacation to deal with crises in her life. She's 35, with her biological clock ticking, her marriage to lawyer George Harrison foundering (especially after she confirms his adultery), and her work at avant-garde Theatre Arts Gallery no longer satisfying. (Even the gallery is threatened; its building has been sold to developers planning to demolish it.) Psychotherapist-rock singer Shara-Rose urges Babette to talk to George (whom Babette, a Beatles groupie, adored from the moment they met), while attractive playwright Carlos Carlos invites Babette's collaboration in his work and company in his bed. Flip and funny at the start, like Babette herself, this novel ends up grounded in reality and tinged with hope. More promising work from award-winning Eidus (Vito Loves Geraldine, City Lights, 1990); not essential but nice entertainment.-Michele Leber, Fairfax Cty. P.L., Va.

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