say, a compound in Hyannisport. Still,nto the son of a printer, life is luxuriousnbeyond his youthful dreams when “hisnidea of destiny was to move away andnmarry a girl from another town.” Now henbelongs to a tacky country club and isnvacationing in the Caribbean (his firstntrip), dropping $300 in a casino in onennight. But his ascetic background hauntsnhim. “Poor Pop,” Harry thinks. “Hendidn’t live to see money get unreal.”nOther aspects of Rabbit’s life arenequally ambiguous. Caught in middlenage between his ancestors and his progeny,nhe finally seeks independence fromnboth. To the older generation he owes hisnbusiness, his fortune, his shelter. He livesnwith his mother-in-law and wife in hernfamily home and, without fail, vacationsnat her family’s summer home in thenPoconos. The Toyota dealership, thoughnowned jointly by his wife and hisnmother-in-law, is under his control. He isnluckier than his employee Charlie, whonhas worked longer and harder than Rabbitnhas, and whom his wife and motherin-lawnwill remove to make room for hisnson. Nelson, the hot-tempered collegendropout. Like his father, whom he hatesnbut from whom he cannot cut loose, Nelsonnhas impregnated one of his girlfriends,nwho insists on marriage. And,nlike his father, he wants his rightful placenin the dealership, to live in the familynhome and to vacation at the family cottage.nBalks Harry, at the implications,n”Look at me. I don’t want him to live mynlife. I’m living it and that’s enough.”nBut the son to whom Rabbit has givennmoney, travel, college, comes home. “Inhaven’t thumbed my nose, it’s just thatnthere’s not that much out there,” Nelsonnwhines, as only an overindulged collegenstudent can.nIn the end. Rabbit gains some integrity.nCharlie replaces Nelson at the dealership.nRabbit and his wife buy a home ofntheir own and they vacation at a resort innthe sun. Finally a new generation ofnAngstrom begins. Nelson’s baby—angirl—is born right after Nelson mns backnto college without his wife. Muses Rabbit,n”Fortune’s hostage, heart’s desire, anI-‘nChronicles of Culturengranddaughter. His. Another nail in hisncoffin. His.”nAltogether, Updike presents us with anfine performance. It is difficult to imaginen95 % of the novel being improvednupon. But something must be said aboutnthat 5 %, the portion known in the fifthngrade as “the dirty parts,” especially Updike’snfond descriptions of the kinky,nadulterous Caribbean wife-swappingncapers. These scenes are not objectionablenbecause they are disgusting,nwhich they are, by the way, but becausenthey are distracung. Readers should bengiven better things to do than ponder thenseverity of the author’s own midlifencrisis.nX homas Berger’s sustained irony is anstyle that few authors use well. Whethernheavy-handed or badly paced, highlynmannered prose too often lapses intontedium. Berger usually gets the balancenright and, unlike Updike, he can distillnsome truths about modern life withoutnoffending a reader’s sensibilities.nFourth novel of the Reinhart seriesnthat began with Crazy in Berlin in 1958,nReinhart’s Women chronicles the agingnof unemployed, divorced, fastidiousnCarl Reinhart, father of two. Since hisndivorce he has been keeping house for hisndaughter Winona, a successful, smallcitynmodel. Cooking has become his passion,nand Berger’s descriptions of Carl’snrecipes punctuate his narrative with delightfulnalliterative detail: “Reinhartnplaced a dozen and a half of the buttonnmushrooms in a colander and plungednthe perforated vessel into a potful of coolnwater.” Little does Reinhart know thatnhis date, Grace Greenwood, is in fact hisndaughter’s lover. The revelation jarsnhim, but then this is a society wherenparking lots are jammed with “sensible,nneat, economical vehicles manufacturednby former enemies of the United States”nand people eat at restaurants namedn”Chinky Chow Mein.” Then, too, “atnalmost hourly intervals he was remindednof how harmless had been the time of hisnown youth: the most vicious types of thatnera would today qualify as the mostnnnwholesome of citizens.”nSuch is life that Grace, a food-industrynexecutive, gets him a few minutes onnmorning television to demonstrate hisncooking skills. When fellow guest Buxtonnhas a heart attack in the television stationnmen’s room, Reinhart is asked to fillnin Buxton’s allotted time. By the end ofnthe story, Reinhart is negotiating for anregular TV slot, and for the first time innhis life, he sees myriad opportunities fornfulfillment and success. Whether any ofnit materializes is the stuff of a fifthnReinhart novel. For now, Berger is contentnto explore life’s daily convolutions,’nnot the least of which is that, were it notnfor his daughter’s homosexuality and anman’s death, Reinhart’s future wouldnlook infinitely bleaker. “Funny how thenworst could happen before one knew itn—and turn out not to be the worst, afternall,” he muses.nContradictions are everywhere. It isnalso revealed that Reinhart’s son, a successful,ntightfisted stockbroker, “wouldnhave liked nothing better than to be anfighter pilot or hero at hand-to-handncombat” during his college years as a warnprotester. Reinhart’s unstable ex-wifennow wants a reunion: “Carl, if you hadnalways been the mean son of a bitchnyou’ve turned into in your old age, I’dnprobably have stuck by you,” she tellsnReinhart on her departure. Public morality,ngeneral irresponsibility, the qualitynof college educations and the media arenall skillfully satirized in Berger’s novel.nBut perhaps the perplexity of the humanncondition he probes is best summarizednby Reinhart himself, who “had wonderednall his life which made the morensense: Ignorance is bliss, or The truth willnmake you free. There was something tonbe said for both.”nA hose of a more complex ideologicalnpersuasion might have hoped for a morenambitious novel. Reinhart’s Women isnperhaps too full of whimsy and lost opportunities.nStill, a sardonic rompnthrough our culture remains a delicacy,nand Berger’s analysis is no less deft for beingna little daft. ‘ •n