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An Unmarried Man by Darryl Ponicsan
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An Unmarried Man

by Darryl Ponicsan

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Recently added bysawtooth, alluvia, TimBazzett, ennie

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I've been reading Darryl Ponicsan from the beginning, from The Last Detail, Goldengrove, Andoshen PA, and Cinderella Liberty. In fact, An Unmarried Man was the only one of his books I had not read. First published nearly thirty years ago and long out of print, it is, in many ways an artifact of the 70s and 80s in many of its descriptions and references, particularly in regard to basic things like income and real estate prices in California. In regard to its subject, however - the battle between the sexes, love, marriage, and especially divorce - things have probably not changed all that much. Divorce is always a heartbreaker, for everyone involved. The unhappiness and soul-searching is here, but much of it is overridden by erotic sexual imagery of a torrid affair almost immediately embarked on by the narrator-protagonist, Ben Naumann, a successful artist whose medium is wood. The name Ponicsan chose for his hero/anti-hero is probably significant in that it could be interpreted as either "no man" (the tragic reduction of self divorce inevitably causes) or "new man" (the hope and new life after divorce embodied in the character of Lupe, Ben's new love). Some readers might be put off by the near-pornographic descriptions which abound throughout the novel. But in the end it works. Ben comes across as a sensitive man, trying to be a good father, but often a slave to his sexual urges, and perhaps not quite as likeable as he might be. The first person point of view and the dialogue are classic Ponicsan, whose metier, for most of the next twenty-five years, was script writing. He knows how to turn a phrase, so to speak, and beacause of this skill his characters always come alive. It was good to read him again. ( )
  TimBazzett | Sep 18, 2009 |
I read the author's "Goldengrove" a long time ago and remember liking it, but this one... not so much. It reminded me of Herbert Gold's "True Love" - divorced guy in CA facing midlife crisis. I couldn't stand the Gold book and this one--about a wood sculptor who divorces and finds new love--wasn't much better. ( )
  ennie | Oct 13, 2008 |
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