I confess, I did not like this story. I will give some reasons, but the main reason, I think, is that I just didn’t care for it. I happen to be something of an expert on marriage counseling (from the counselee’s point of view) and this just felt ho-hum. Jerry, well into his marriage to Hannah, suddenly becomes a born-again Christian and keeps trying to save her. Yes, this is annoying. It’s probably a good reason to leave him, since it probably masks a deeper problem. She has trouble finding a suitable marriage counselor, finally arriving at the office of $200-an-hour Dr. Love, whose name is a deal-breaker for me. Some details of their marriage are revealed, none of which are that interesting. It’s more interesting that she hides in the bathroom of the doctor’s office reading People magazine. It’s very interesting she confesses to an affair with the plumber which never happened, then takes offense that Jerry would believe her. She has recovered from her bad marriage, and it’s interesting she’s letting the doctor know that. But it’s just not a story I care about, it’s not a character I care about, and while I find some of the incidents funny or bittersweet (the Chihuahua trying to hump the Labrador reminds her of Dudley Moore and Susan Anton, and of her own relationship with Jerry, who is shorter than she is; the opposite of love is apathy, not hate) it just never went beyond Redbook fiction for me. Back when there was Redbook fiction. Which I understand no longer exists, though I haven’t seen an issue of Redbook in a few decades.
However, I’m not fool enough to think my judgment is superior to that of Richard Russo, The Atlantic (where the story was first published and in whose archives it can be read in its entirety), or Jill McCorkle (who in her Atlantic interview describes it as a woman’s journey to come out the other side). So I’ll just say my experiences got in the way and I wasn’t able to appreciate the story. Which is the sort of thing a decade of marriage counseling will teach you to say. See, I told you I was an expert.
p.s. It is indeed the p.s. of the story that carries it, which may be part of my annoyance at having to read through all that to get to the Space Needle imagery: we get tossed around, we get scared, and we immediately get in line to have another turn. And we no longer look like shit on a stick.