people’s welfare above Exxon’s and ITnand T’s and Anaconda Copper’s,” shensays of her ex-CIA agent husband),nSusan has accepted a teaching position atnSwarthmore. Fcnn, already the author ofna CIA expose, is thinking of letting hisnwife support him while he writes, unremarkably,na novel.nMore bad news: both Susan and Fennnhave doubles. Susan’s twin, Miriam,nonce gang-raped and worked over bynSAVAK, is currently involved with anVietnamese immigrant, Eastwood Ho,nby whom she has a son, Edgar Allan Ho.nThis is evidence of Earth’s top-notch wit.nSusan’s and Miriam’s mother, a successfulnentrepreneur, is “kcrflooey,” in thenlanguage of this novel. Other stylisticncontrivances, such as “Blam! Blooey!” tondescribe the noise of a sea storm, and upside-downnexclamation points give thennovel all the literary integrity of a chainnletter. Fenn’s twin Manfred, a CIAnoperative, is presumed dead.nDuring their journey there arendreams, uncharted islands, gunfire, andna sea monster with which to contend.nThere are storms to survive and politicalndiscussions to endure. But what thenheck? Life ain’t all bad: “We arenreasonably healthy, reasonably successful,nreasonably well off, well fed, wellnscrewed, unpersecuted, unoppressed,nand still in love after seven years of marriage:nthe favored of the earth,” Fennnmuses smugly. Now if either of themncould sustain a serious thought for morenthan 25 seconds, they would really haventhe world on a silver platter. But rationalitynseems not to be a part of their valuensystems. In the end, Fenn and Susan gainn—what else ?—a new perspective on theirnlives, and Fenn, Earth’s alter ego, isnthreatening us with another work of fiction.nSabbatical ^-3,% a start, butnthe author isn’t getting any younger.nPerhaps his next project will havena little more permanence. How aboutnRetirement!nvJne author who should never retirenis Anne Tyler, whose Dinner at thenHomesick Restaurant provides a richn22inChronicles of Culturenstory of ordinary people wrestling withnthe combination of familiarity and isolationnthat characteri2es family living. It isnskillfully written, certainly credible,nalways interesting. But it is also almostnoppressively sad.nNo “quality-of-life” types opting for anyear of luxury to ponder the immoralitynof U.S. human-rights policy here. Tyler’sncharacters are human beings who worrynabout mundane matters like finances,ntheir health, and their children’s behavior.nPearl Tull suffers and rages afternhusband Beck leaves her and the threenchildren, never to return in her lifetime.nHer offspring, Cody, Ezra, and Jeimy,nmean everything to her, and yet she isnprone to violent abuse and unforgivablyncmel outbursts. Though she works in angrocery store, her role in the traditionalnfamily skit “The Mortgage Overdue”nbelies a waste of talent and fiiry. Happiness,nsomething she projects upon photographsnand recollections of the past, isnnever realized.nThe many rituals, traditions, affections,nand rivalries of family life are wellnchronicled here. Cody, though betternlooking, smarter, and more driven thannEzra, seethes with envy over his youngernbrother’s good heart and eventuallynsteals his fiancee. Jenny achieves her goalnof becoming a pediatrician but createsnwholesome, really homelike.” Ezra’snidea, of course, when put into operation,nnever equals his dream. There is chaos innthe kitchen and some trouble keepingnhelp. “Well, I don’t know,” muses anskeptical Jenny. “Maybe people go tonrestaurants to get away from home.” Indeed,ndinners at The Homesick Restaurantnare—in repeated episodes that arentoo contrived—unmitigated disasters.nWhat remains of the Tull householdnseems imable to meet there to celebrateneven an occasion of joy without splittingnup before the main course is served.nNor does the outside world providenany better examples of family harmony.nStrangers pour out their unhappiness onnradio call-in shows. Pearl’s grandsonnLuke, hitchhiking away ftom his parents,naccepts rides ftom a grieving father, andivorced man looking for new love, and anmother distraught at the unbridgeablenrift between herself and her husbandnand daughter. The only happiness thencharacters detect is that which theynhave superimposed on smiling, anonymousnfaces.nOuccessfiil family life is frequentlynelusive, and the reader is often moved bynEzra’s symbolic, culinary oblations to it.nStatistics show that many households arentroubled: alcoholism, desertion, domes-n”Tyler’s prose is sexually anesthetircd—in fact, mass sexual coma prevails in hernbooks—and so the energy it gives ofif feels fabricated. The warmth is shallow; it isnnostalgia being burned, not immediate experience. . . . She allows the middle-brownmiddle class to love itself for all its poignant insufficiency. A pity …”n—Vivian GomicknVillage Voice reviewnentided “Anne Tyler’snAnested Development”nand leaves new family situations withoutnthe proper reflection. It is Ezra, though,nwhose restaurant bestows upon the booknits tide and who gives this fine novel itsnfocus. Disappointing his mother, whonwishes him to finish college and pursuenan academic career, Ezra, a bachelor,nremolds a successful Italian restaurant intonhis fantasy of homey nourishmentnwhere “everything will be solid andnnntic violence are all too common. What isnnot being said often enough, however,nis that such families are in the minority.nThe “broken home” is still the exceptionnrather than the rule; most marriages endurenimtil the death of a spouse. Surelynthe family harmony and unity for whichnthe TuUs strain so valiantly are notncompletely unobtainable fantasies.nMany people find security and pleasuren