The setting is a New York apartment where two long-estranged lovers try to resuscitate their passion. Kay is old enough to be skeptical about men–this man in particular–but still alert to the possibility of true love. Benjamin is a filmmaker with an appealing waywardness and a conveniently disappearing fiancée. As the two lie entwined in bed, Susan Minot ushers readers across an entire landscape of memory and sensation to reveal the infinite nuances of sex: its power to exalt and deceive, to connect two separate selves or make them fully aware of their solitude. Honest and unflinching, the result is a hypnotic reading experience.
Minot's latest book, which describes a romantic interlude between two former lovers, may encompass the longest and least titillating episode of fellatio in fictional history. The question is, Who will tire first: Kay Bailey, Benjamin Young or the reader? Former lovers estranged for more than a year, Kay and Benjamin somehow stumble into bed. As their interplay meanders toward resolution—his urges are numbingly simple, hers are hopelessly conflicted—the narrative moves between their interior monologues. Against her better judgment and to his amazement, they've plainly gotten together for the wrong reasons, yet their respective ruminations suggest that every romance they've experienced has been equally misguided. "People would never get together without some kind of hydraulic urging," thinks Kay, who nevertheless finds the sensual intimacy bringing her closer to Benjamin, as he drifts further from her. Minot has written often and well of lust's folly, but her characters here are so shallow and their predicament is so trite that it's as much of a challenge for the reader to sustain interest as it is for Benjamin.