Virtual Love

Virtual Love

by Avodah K. Offit

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In her flawed first foray into fiction, therapist Offit, author of The Sexual Self and Night Thoughts: Reflections of a Sex Therapist , attempts to dramatize the lives of two analysts. Never having met, Aphra Zion and Marc Martell begin communicating in 1991 via computer E-mail. Some correspondence deals with their patients and their sexual disorders; the remainder looks back as far as 1942 to chronicle their respective pasts. They share guilt about their dead brothers and fathers, and both have stormy marriages: Marc wrestles with wife Trish's hatred; Aphra has an unfaithful husband whose clothing she slashes in a particularly cliched scene. Seeking solace, Aphra embarks on an affair, while Marc throws himself into New Age healing and finds a corrupt guru. Though the author cheats a bit by putting exposition too lengthy to be credible correspondence into chapters labeled ``PRIVATE FILE: Do not send,'' her E-mail format is an intriguing attempt to bring the epistolary novel into the computer age. Unfortunately, Offit has not created believable or compelling fiction. Aphra is self-indulgent, Marc unethical, and their family histories are generally banal. In addition, the book's sexual material seems forced, designed to titillate rather than illuminate. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Offit, an established psychiatrist/sex therapist, has written an unusual psychological novel. Marc Martell, a young, angst-ridden psychiatrist in San Francisco, begins an E-mail correspondence with a respected colleague, Aphra Zion, who lives in New York. Marc begins asking advice about a special patient, but his messages are soon telling more about his failed relationships with family and lovers. Aphra examines her own bonds, past and present, largely in E-mail files that she does not send to Marc. The book's ten sections help focus the vivid memories (mostly Aphra's) of the pair's search for love and acceptance. The surprisingly intertwined, cathartic ending is believable, but though Aphra is authentically intriguing, Marc often seems whiny and self-absorbed.-- Rebecca S. Kelm, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights

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Simon & Schuster
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