Life in a Marital Institution: Twenty Years of Monogamy in One Terrifying Memoir

James Braly. St. Martin’s, $24.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-3126-0728-9
In this spirited outpouring of youthful vitriol, former New York copywriter and performance monologuist Braly offers an aggrieved and hilarious account of his long courtship and marriage to “Jane” (also occasionally referred to as “Anne”), with whom he spent much of the next 20 years in couples counseling. A gorgeous, Germanic, world-traveled young scholarship student he met while attending Columbia College, Jane was frank, confident, unable to dissemble about her feelings, comfortable with breast-feeding their two sons well into grade-school age, and clearly the one who “wore the pants” in the relationship, setting off a spiraling of “dark, shameful rage” for Braly. He in turn was long entangled in the dramas of his extended dysfunctional family, and in his self-excoriating narrative, he has reconciled himself to the fact that he and Jane were locked in the painful writhings needed to “finish the unfinished business of growing up,” as the therapists say. Running beneath the absurdity of the couple’s combative behavior is the sad, slow dying of Braly’s older sister, Kate, from breast cancer; summoned down to her deathbed in Houston, Braly had to appease the tempestuous personalities of the various gathered family members, from his multimarried mother with her new facelift to his now wheelchair-bound war hero father who was once General Eisenhower’s personal pilot. Braly faces down harrowing emotional hurdles with a gritty, lip-curling humor. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 12/10/2012
Release date: 04/02/2013
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Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-250-02884-6
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