Picks and Pans Review: Friends of the Opposite Sex

UPDATED 01/30/1984 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 01/30/1984 at 01:00 AM EST

by Sara Davidson

The heroine of this mixed bag of a novel is a successful maker of documentary films in Hollywood. Divorced, she lives in a house near the beach and sums up her life this way: "With any man I'm with, there's always a tape running in my head—he's too short, too tall, not bright enough, not warm enough, doesn't read enough, not Jewish, too Jewish. Is he right, would I be happier with someone else? A man I met in India, a man who's an expert on mythology, told me I shouldn't think of marriage as a love affair because all love affairs end on the rocks." Then she meets an ex-surfer who, like her, makes documentaries. The sex is perfect, but they cut out the sex and become friends because he doesn't want commitment, and she thinks she may still love her ex-husband—as well as her first lover. It's not a bad variation on a now standard theme. Most of the story is told in flashback, an unnecessary device; Davidson, author of Loose Change, is a fine observer and convincing writer whose prose has its own momentum. Much of the Hollywood scene seems overly familiar, but when the woman goes to Israel in search of a new film project, the story comes brightly to life. A climb up a mountain in the Sinai, a visit to Jerusalem's Wailing Wall, a filthy Bedouin village are evocatively conveyed; the reader knows that this is the way these places must be. (Doubleday, $15.95)

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