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IN BRIEF

Fiction

April 04, 1993|KAREN STABINER

ALL KINDS OF LOVE by Carl Reiner (Birch Lane Press: $18.95; 224 pp.). This is a prose cousin to Paul Mazursky's film "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," a comedy about rich folks with a social lesson embedded in its navel: Essentially, all we need is love. Fred Cox is one of those hangnail producers who is somebody's whim away from bankruptcy; his gorgeous wife Sharon frets obsessively about their increasingly silent teen-age son Kevin, who, in turn, obsesses about Maria, one of the Cox's twin Salvadoran housekeepers. Add two archetypal Miami Beach Jewish grandparents (wacky, but always endearing) and a knockout of a Japanese tutor, and what do you have? Schtick with a Pacific Rim twist, and a morale, which can be boiled down to the notion that everyone ought to be with the person they love even if it requires the services of a lawyer, a therapist, a banker or, in the case of these Bel-Air residents, all of the above. There is a certain frantic sweetness to Reiner's efforts, as though he had only recently discovered that the world's population includes gay women, self-absorbed men, romantic rebellious middle-class boys and salt-of-the-earth Central American women, to say nothing of older people who know more than anyone and like to say so. It's a harmless, charming diversion, set in a world where a woman's decision to have a baby for hire has few ramifications beyond a temporary swelling in her belly and a permanent one in her jewelry box.

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