Synopses & Reviews
Five Oaks, Michigan is not exactly where Saul and Patsy meant to end up. Both from the East Coast, they met in college, fell in love, and settled down to married life in the Midwest. Saul is Jewish and a compulsively inventive worrier; Patsy is gentile and cheerfully pragmatic. On Saul's initiative (and to his continual dismay) they have moved to this small town-a place so devoid of irony as to be virtually "a museum of earlier American feelings"-where he has taken a job teaching high school. Soon this brainy and guiltily happy couple will find children have become a part of their lives, first their own baby daughter and then an unloved, unlovable boy named Gordy Himmelman. It is Gordy who will throw Saul and Patsy's lives into disarray with an inscrutable act of violence. As timely as a news flash yet informed by an immemorial understanding of human character, Saul and Patsy is a genuine miracle.
"For the first quarter of this novel, even the talented John Rubinstein can't save it from sounding like Annie Hall Redux. The clash between Midwest WASP and East Coast Jew is better captured by Woody Allen in a single line. However, this quirky novel improves vastly when the none-too-bright Gordy, performed to slow-talking perfection by Rubinstein, stalks Saul's family, and the plot shifts into a different gear. Rubinstein subtly controls the voice of Gordy's aunt Brenda so that she sounds simultaneously greedy and grieving. He individuates Saul's friends and family and occasionally provides amusing sound effects for example, Mad Dog inhaling pot and then speaking with his throat full of smoke. Rubinstein's well-paced narration extracts as much humor from the novel as possible. Unfortunately, the audio's production is far from perfect. Awkward silences separate the tracks, and each CD ends abruptly. Occasional bits of music seem randomly dropped in. Despite the technical flaws, Rubinstein's fine performance makes Saul & Patsy a notable new audio. A Vintage paperback (Reviews, Sept. 28, 2003). (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
It is rare that a novel, even a good one, manages to evoke contemporary life without being self-conscious about it. But that is what Baxter achieves here in his portrait of a recently married couple--neurotic, cantankerous Saul Bernstein, who has taken a job teaching high school in rural Michigan, and his wife, Patsy, who does her best to steady him.--"The New Yorker." Unabridged. 10 CDs.
About the Author
Charles Baxter is the author of ten books, including "The Feast of Love," a finalist for the National Book Award, and "The Art of Subtext: Beyond Plot," He lives in Minneapolis.Rubinstein has performed on Broadway.