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Fiction

September 29, 1985|MICHAEL J. CARROLL

SOMETHING IN COMMON by Robert Robin (Simon & Schuster: $16.95). This is a story about awkwardness and love, awkwardly and lovingly told. Joel Stern, successful attorney, father of two boys, happily married, learns of the death of Ted, his college roommate, a man who had been--until Joel's marriage--his lover. Adding to the complication is wife Cath's revelation that she has known all along of this affair. "Something in Common" follows Joel as he tries to understand why he suddenly feels distant from Cath and drawn to Doug, Ted's bereaved lover. But Robert Robin refuses to let his story speak for itself. We see an event through Joel's senses, then Robin has him offer an interpretation that is at best bewildering. Cath "sat down. 'Juddy, may I have part of the paper?' she asked. In that moment it was possible to see that she once had been a little girl talking baseball with her father." The book is filled with such irritating non sequiturs. The impression given is that Robin is unknowingly holding back in what he tells us of Joel and Cath and Ted, that he knows his characters better than he has portrayed them and wrongly thinks that we understand them as well as he. Too much must be taken on faith. Given the skimpy plot (will Cath and Joel break up?) and the labored prose, there is little to reward a reader's patience.

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