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You just want to tell protagonist of Reza's new novel, `Oh, shut up!'

March 11, 2007|By Victoria A. Brownworth | Victoria A. Brownworth,Specail to the Sun

Why, for example, is there no connection between Haberberg and Marie-Therese? Both are suffering in their midlife crisis states. Why not show how that kind of despair resonates through all strata of life? Instead, Haberberg, with his constant whining, seems like a Woody Allen character without the laughs - he's the embodiment of angst. His entrapment by Marie-Therese is less After Hours darkly comic than just a bleakly unrewarding conceit.

Reza seems to have intended satire in Adam Haberberg, a caustic look at the way midlife crises hit some people and how the very stasis they complain so bitterly about is often self-inflicted. Satire, however, still demands a nexus of empathy and that is missing from Reza's presentation of Haberberg, at whom one wants to shout "Snap out of it, man!" or simply "Oh, shut up!"

As a set piece on how not to reach middle age, Adam Haberberg is superlative. As a compelling short novel about how life often fails us when time catches up to reality, alas, unlike her previous work, Adam Haberberg misses the mark.

Victoria A. Brownworth is the author and editor of more than 20 books, most recently "The Golden Age of Lesbian Erotica: 1920-1940." She teaches writing and film at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.

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