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grappling with them and, by the end, she has at least begun to understand why people hurt each other. Disturbingly, she learns this by hurting someone else. Economical but far-reaching, A Crime in the Neighborhood offers a frighteningly believable account of how a small community reacts to a changing society. (MM) Edouard Manet: Rebel in a Frock Coat by Beth Archer Brombert Little, Brown, 1996, 505 pp., $29.95 Edouard Manet may be the only impressionist whose work has retained its capacity to shock. Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Gaugin, all radicals in their time, have been sentimentalized almost into meaninglessness . Monets hang on dormitory walls, Degas dancers (who were just a step above prostitutes in their time) hang in little girls' pink bedrooms . Even Van Gogh's most psychotic self-portraits are the stuff of postcards and children's art history books. The impressionists, for the most part, just aren't scary anymore. But Manet's masterworks—the aggressively sexual prostitute in Olympia, the satiric decadence of Déjeuner Sur L'Herbe, the pathos of Barat the Folies Bergère—have not been tamed. It is the great irony of Manefs life that he, more than any of his contemporaries , craved popular acceptance . The contradictions in Manefs character, the public's response to his art and the obstinacy that made him continue to paint unsettling, unpopular pictures while craving public acclaim , should be the makings of a good biography. Unfortunately, while Beth Archer Brombert gives us a wealth of information about Manefs life, she somehow manages to miss the man. Part of the problem is that much of the book is taken up with trying to solve the two great mysteries of Manefs life, yet Brombert comes to no new conclusions about them. Yes, Manet was almost certainly the father of an illegitimate son who carried his wife's maiden name and yes, Manet probably had an affair with the artist Berthe Morisot. Brombert spends page after page attempting to document these "transgressions," but comes up with neither definitive proof, nor any new insights into their effects on the artist's life. We learn much about the politics of the Salon, the tastes of the times and the fact that Manet was widely ridiculed. But we never get to the heart of what made Manet steady in his vision in the face of rejection, mockery and a consuming desire for popularity. Finally, the book reproduces Manet's works in black and white, so when Brombert is discussing the artist's palette, one is left either to imagine what his pictures really look like, or to consult another book with color plates. This failing provides an apt metaphor for the whole book. While Bromberfs biography seems, superficially, to be an accurate account of Edouard Manet's history , it lacks color; Manet's essence never comes across. (WJ) Love Warps the Mind a Little by John Dufresne WW. Norton, 1997, 315 pp., $23 Laf Proulx is an oft-rejected writer who's working in a fish and chips 208 · The Missouri Review stand. He's just been kicked out by his wife for having an affair, so he's staying with his lover, Judi Dubey— whom he's not sure he loves. Luckily , the lack of feeling is mutual. Judi sets Laf up on the couch and encourages him to enter marriage counseling and see if he can reconcile with his wife. Laf goes along with this plan enthusiastically, but he eventually admits to himself that things just aren't going to work out. About this time, Judi is diagnosed with cancer. Laf is the kind of person who isn't sure he knows how to love, but he does know how to do the right thing. He cares for Judi, taking her to the hospital, nursing her through graphically described chemotherapy, talking with her about dying—and in so doing, Laf falls in love with Judi for real. All of which may make the book sound like a bad episode of Oprah: midlife-crisis men whose lovers get cancer. But it is much more than that. Laf and Judi are surrounded by a hilarious, if sometimes confusing, cast of...


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pp. 208-209
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