Books: Homebodies

ROUGH STRIFE by Lynne Sharon Schwartz

Harper & Row; 200 pages; $9.95

Caroline is a mathematician who specializes in topology and knot theory. Husband Ivan is an executive at a New York City museum. He relishes detachment, irony and ambiguity; she favors directness, clarity and definite answers. But Ivan is more demanding than Caroline: "She could forgive a good deal of grossness so long as there was not emotional dishonesty, but he required aesthetic purity and was harsh about lapses in taste. He said that if something was shoddily executed it had unquestionably been...

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