By Lisa Schwarzbaum
August 04, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

You Lost Me There


Brilliance and befuddlement are twined in the DnA of Dr. Victor Aaron, the living narrator of Rosecrans Baldwin?s beautiful, brainy, offbeat first novel, You Lost Me There. Victor, a widower in his late 50s, is the sort of genius (he?s a leading Alzheimer?s researcher) who?s a dolt when it comes to understanding emotions, either in himself or others. his subspecialty is misunderstanding women, a masculine weakness the author probes with delicacy as Victor mourns the loss of his wife, Sara.

By way of diary-like notes she left behind, Sara is, you see, equally the narrator of this scientifically erudite fiction. And a good storyteller she is, too, since in life she was a successful playwright and screenwriter. the story teeters as it concludes, but Baldwin keeps his balance with sharply drawn secondary characters: I especially like the lively Yankee-eccentric old aunt, as well as the young colleague with whom Victor has an ambivalent, erotically based liaison. (She delivers a show-stopping monologue about men and women and sex today: ”Men think women are puppets, and women go out and get surgery to look like blow-up dolls.”) Baldwin shows steadying compassion and literary flair in the dissection of miseries,identifying with equal compassion the dissatisfactions of a dead wife and the grief of a bewildered widower. Behold the irony of a specialist in memory loss whose memory of his own marriage is unreliable. A?

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You Lost Me There

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