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Jonathan YardleyMarriage as metaphor for larger conflict is scarcely new, but Ken Kalfus has put a new and singularly imaginative twist on it. A Disorder Peculiar to the Country -- the title comes from Oliver Goldsmith: "There is a disorder peculiar to the country, which every season makes strange ravages among them" -- is a dark comedy with serious things to say about the difficult, unsettling times in which we live. Occasionally, it is laugh-out-loud funny, especially a long set piece centered on Joyce's sister's interfaith marriage ("Joyce sensed that she was dining at a banquet with two clans forced by hard circumstance to accommodate each other's interests, in peril of being massacred after the first martini"), but it is also about "a world of heedless materialism, impiety, baseness, and divorce," a world in which "sense was not made, this was jihad: the unconnected parts of the world had been brought together and made just ."
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