Binding
 

Married But Looking

Daniel S. Libman

             Unabashedly funny—at turns dirty, revolting, tender and sarcastic—Daniel S. Libman’s stories bring us a new style that is part inner dialogue, part comic monologue—Grace Paley meets Charles Bukowski. Armed with a comic’s wit and a poet’s ear, Libman celebrates marriage by excoriating what it falls prey to and must overcome:  adultery, lusts and longings, dalliances both real and imagined. Here we see the fantasies of the adulterer, the dark paranoid world of the cuckold, and surprisingly, the willingness of couples to stay together, with their tenuous, often funny steps forward after transgression.  Taken together, these short works are a testament to the marriage and its demands of love, humor, and the sheer persistence of the human heart.

            A widower celebrates the end of his life by preparing a fancy dinner for a call girl.  A young opera singer finds her boyfriend is engaged to someone else.  A man forces his wife to ride a tandem bike with him as penance for cheating.  A man valiantly attempts to prevent his wife from selling their wedding dress at a garage sale.   

ISBN: 978-1-60489-079-2 Trade paper: $21     Sale: $12.60

ISBN:  978-1-60489-078-5 Library binding: $32     Sale:$19.20

 Pages 222

About the Author:  Daniel S. Libman is the winner of a Pushcart Prize for fiction as well as a Paris Review discovery Prize, now called the Plimpton Prize. His story “In the Belly of the Cat” has been anthologized many times and translated into several languages, most recently Russian for the journal Inostrannaya Literatura. He has published stories and essays in many journals and magazines including Details, Other Voices, Columbia, The Paris Review, The Baffler, Santa Monica Review, and The Chicago Reader. Winner of a writing grant from the Illinois Arts Council, Dan is currently holed up in rural Illinois with his wife, two kids, a dog and a cat, and chickens too numerous to count.

 Excerpt From the Book:

 

The same day that he canceled all his newspaper and magazine subscriptions, Mr. Christopher deveined a pound of jumbo shrimp by hand.  He had never done this before, and used nearly a whole roll of paper towels wiping the snotty black entrails off his fingers one by one.  He also grated a package of cheddar cheese with a previously unused grater he uncovered in his silverware drawer, kneaded a loaf of oatmeal raisin bread, then called the escort service and arranged for a girl.  “I want Carlotta; she’s a Latina, right?”

            He had called The Tribune earlier that morning.  “Stop my subscription.  The relationship is over; deliver it no longer.  The advice columns just rehash the same situations–alcoholism, smoking, infidelity–although sometimes those columns are titillating, which I appreciate.  The comic strips are contrived, and the punch lines aren’t ever that good.  That cranky columnist on page three ought to have his head examined; I think he’s finally lost it, and your media critic is always biased towards the TV stations you own.  But what I object to mostly, the reason I’m canceling, is because it comes too often: once a day, and anyway what good is it?  I don’t have that much time left and do you know much I’ve wasted over the years slogging through, reading and cringing, hands and fingers covered in the ink, hauling paper-bloated garbage bags stuffed with Sports and Food sections, which I never even touch, down three flights of stairs every week?”

            Mr. Christopher was hurt by the cavalier way the man at the Trib took care of the cancellation.  After so much loyal readership he felt they should have put up some sort of struggle, a little token of respect: “But Mr. Christopher, please think about it; you want to throw away sixty years just like that?”   Not that it would have gotten them anywhere.  His mind was made up.

            He had been a widower now for a year and a half, retired, down to only two-thirds of what he weighed at forty, dentures, a toupee he no longer wore but kept hanging off his hall tree, an artificial hip, and a brother a couple of states to the east whom he didn’t like with a mouthy know-it-all wife.  This had come to him one evening earlier in the week, a cold-cut sandwich and a pickle on a plate in front of him, eyeing the pile of papers; he had enough of them.

            Mr. Christopher canceled all the magazines too: The East Coast Arbiter, Harbingers’, World News Ruminator, even The Convenience Store Merchandiser, a holdover from work that they sent him for free. 

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