Suzanne Ruta
March 11, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

Conjugal Bliss: A Comedy of Martial Arts

Current Status
In Season
John Nichols

We gave it a B-

Liza Minnelli starred in the film version of Nichols’ Sterile Cuckoo, Sonia Braga in his Milagro Beanfield War. If Conjugal Bliss: a Comedy of Martial Arts were a movie, though, it wouldn’t have much plot. Zelda — small, shapely, passionate, insanely jealous, easily wounded-marries Roger — sloppy, still semi-in-love with numerous former girlfriends. The newlyweds make love in pickup trucks, back alleys, and on the kitchen table. Otherwise they’re throwing furniture at one another. In time, the sex gets steamier, the furniture gets heavier. Pretty soon they can’t make love unless they’ve wrecked the house. The message: Marriage destroys your sense of humor. Nichols works too hard to prove his is intact. When he’s not being jokey and exuberant, he writes nice, loose, springy passages about the great outdoors, northern New Mexico, pinon forests, and starlight on the mesa. If this novel were a movie, you’d see it for the scenery. B-

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