Picks and Pans Review: The Celestial Bed
It's been 27 years since Wallace's The Chapman Report titillated readers who thought it a fictional version of research done for the Kinsey Report. Ever since, Wallace always has had a gimmick. This time it's back to sex—sex therapy, to be exact—but two decades after Masters and Johnson became household names, isn't it all old hat? The hero of The Celestial Bed is Dr. Arnold Freeberg, a therapist who uses surrogates to cure patients. He gets chased out of Arizona, where such goings on are illegal, and sets up a clinic in California. He hires five women and one male and trains them to help people find happiness in the sack. Along with the few detailed case histories, an ambitious reporter, a dirty-minded evangelist and a violent gangster have been mixed in to give some semblance of plot to a series of tedious sex scenes. Judith Krantz, Sidney Sheldon, Harold Robbins and the other best-selling trashists have written explicitly about the sex act until every step described, every familiar word used, every moan moaned, invokes nothing but yawns. Wallace is incapable of creating a believable character; his storytelling is without freshness, and his writing is listless. The Celestial Bed just seems old-fashioned—even quaint—and utterly silly. (Delacorte, $17.95)
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