September 06, 2002 at 04:00 AM EDT

In the Middle of All This

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Fred G. Leebron
publisher
Harcourt
Genre
Fiction
We gave it a B

Martin Kreutzel’s sister Elizabeth is dying of cancer. And Martin, an anthropology professor at a small college, is falling apart over it. He is detached from his wife and children, distracted at work, and increasingly dependent on booze. While Elizabeth’s illness forces her brother to face his own alienation and mortality, Leebron thankfully avoids drawing grand, truth-in-death conclusions, choosing instead open-ended introspection: ”As if there was a single answer — a force that could push him into another way of life. It was more complicated than that, more typical. Sometimes he felt a serenity…the possibility of it. But what or where was it?” The Kreutzels’ story isn’t a new one, but told in easy prose and infused with a heart, it pulls you right into the middle of the messiness of life.

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