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Parallel Play: A Novelby Thomas Rayfiel
Synopses & Reviews
I didn't get pregnant all at once. There were several men and several times and then one morning I woke up and said, Oh God. Believe me, I know that's not how things are supposed to happen. My life had stopped obeying the Laws of Nature. I was so busy wondering if this was it. Every touch, every feeling, became a possible big moment, until I couldn't even concentrate on enjoying myself, if that’s what I was meant to be doing. I remember thinking, There has to be more, doesn’t there? I still had a sense of future about to start, of a destiny, a calling, just for me. And then it was over, my life. I was staring at a pink dot, a period at the end of a sentence that hadn't been written yet. Over before it had begun.
How old is your baby?
“Jasper is fourteen months.”
“Jasper You're a big boy, aren’t you, Jasper?
We were sitting in the Tot Spot. Ann was either building a castle or digging a hole, I couldn't tell which. She didn’t seem to know herself. The book lay open on my lap. I had brought it so no one would talk to me. I hated playground conversations. But what the other mothers said kept leaking in. I couldn't close my ears.
And how old is . . . is it a girl?
Chloe will be one in February.”
It had journal on the front and a blank page for every day of the year. At first I thought it was a novel and in a way it was. With no writing at all it was a perfect description of my life: Monday-nothing, Tuesday—nothing, Wednesday-
There had to be more, didn't there? I remembered waiting for words to appear, some explanation or congratulations or even a stupid saying like in a fortune cookie. I still had the stick somewhere: Accu-Preg Early Warning System. Maybe if I peed on it again. . . .
He was standing on the other side of the fence. I had forgotten anyone existed beyond our closed-off little world. Though he'd called my name, twice, he still hesitated, not sure it was me. I don’t know why. I recognized him right away.
He came closer and put his hands on the bars.
“Is that yours?
No, I wanted to answer. I was abducted by aliens and forced to become an incubator in one of their hideous breeding experiments. Instead I just shrugged.
Is it a boy or . . . ?
“What's her name?
I was surprised at how calm I sounded. I had imagined this meeting so many times, played it over in my mind, but now that it was actually happening, seeing Mark again turned out not to be such a big deal after all. Then I realized he'd asked me another question, about a minute ago.
“I said, Who's the lucky guy?”
“No one. I mean, his name’s Harvey. Harvey Gabriel. He's a doctor.
He looked the same, as if the last two and a half years hadn’t happened, which of course they hadn't, not to him. He wasn’t handsome. That was his secret weapon. He looked so ordinary, under a tangle of silly
Despite her love for her doctor husband Harvey, Eve, a young mother, suddenly comes to the realization--sparked by her feelings of disconnection at a playgroup, the reappearance of an old boyfriend, and the lasting effects of her own dysfunctional childhood--that she is completely unprepared for motherhood. Reader's Guide included. Original. 10,000 first printing.
She’s still not quite sure how it happened. The biological part is fairly straightforward. It’s the wife-and-mother part that Eve can’t wrap her head around. Much to her surprise, Eve finds herself living in Brooklyn, married to a doctor named Harvey, and toting a young infant named Ann. How did she get here? And where is that maternal instinct that was supposed to have kicked in by now?
From winter afternoons spent freezing at the Tot Spot to playgroups where she inadvertently tells the other mothers that Ann was an accident, Eve struggles to embrace motherhood and the yuppie accoutrements of her new life. It doesn’t help that her even-keeled husband spends long days working at the hospital, or that her own childhood in a religious cult was–by most people’s estimates–extremely odd. And when her ex-boyfriend (her gorgeous, toned, aloof ex-boyfriend) Mark reappears, Eve is thrown for a loop. Torn between the free-spirited Manhattanite she once was and the Snugli-wearing, baby-hoisting, stay-at-home body she now finds herself inhabiting, Eve realizes she must choose between the past and the present, lust and love, childhood and adulthood.
“What’s sly, fine and real here is the way Rayfiel finally insinuates Baby into Eve’s slow-melting heart to form a bio-bond that becomes wondrously tight. Smart, dark, daring fare.”
“It’s high time we got a novel such as Parallel Play–one that portrays a young mother as neitherthe Virgin Mary nor as Mommie Dearest. Eve is fumbling, flawed, funny, and——above all–utterly human. Tom Rayfiel has dared to tell it like it is in this triumphant novel.”
–Binnie Kirshenbaum, author of An Almost Perfect Moment
“Wonderfully dreamlike and sharply, hilariously satirical . . . a truly remarkable and original creation.”
–Dan Chaon, author of You Remind Me of Me
“If Thomas Pynchon had suffered postpartum depression, he might have written a novel like Parallel Play. As Eve wanders through the first months of motherhood, her observations are hilarious, eerie, and unforgettable. This is a must-read for lovers of smart fiction and flummoxed mothers.”–Amanda Eyre Ward, author of How to Be Lost
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