Books: Maternal Triangle

FOREVER PANTING

by PETER DE VRIES 274 pages. Little, Brown. $7.95. "Domesticity," Peter De Vries has said, "is an instinct—just like sex." So it is not surprising that most of his comic novels have been—in one way or another—about post-dishwashing tristesse. It is that pleasantly sad feeling that follows doing the right thing.

Stewart Smackenfelt seems incapable of doing anything else. He is, in fact, the most considerate character in all of De Vries' 17 novels. An intermittently employed actor, Smackenfelt begins his good works by servicing his id—his bestial Freudian self, whom...

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