Picks and Pans Review: Heartsounds

updated 04/21/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/21/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Martha Weinman Lear

Dr. Harold Lear, a New York urologist and sex therapist, suffered a coronary in his early 50s that led to mental disability and death within five years. His wife turned their experience into this haunting book. "My life here, now," she writes toward the end, "is nursemaid to a man gone strangely old from sickness and garrulous from loneliness, clutching at sleeves, wanting to talk to confirm that he still exists, and I ache for him but I resent him as well, this sick, sunken man who is my beautiful Hal whom I adore. The intensity of the anger that hovers here, beneath what I take to be love, is frightening." The author, a fine journalist (and former New York Times editor), documents the illness during which her husband received what she portrays as inept, unfeeling medical care. This is a hypnotizing recital of a man's death throes, marred only by self-consciousness; both Lears were making notes for the book the while they played out their tragedy. (Simon and Schuster, $12.95)

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