A Dual Inheritance
Ed Cantrowitz is hot for the girls and doesn’t quite know how to handle them beyond the chase and sex. Hugh Shipley is a Boston Brahmin who had one great love that he lost and whom he just discovered had an abortion after she disappeared from his life. Hugh appears to take everything and everyone for granted, but that isn’t so at all. These two men become friends, almost for life, but couldn’t be more different. Ed’s Jewishness is always on somebody else’s mind in this novel, which spans the 1960s to the present day, but that’s not troubling to him. What is troubling is the lack of connection he feels to everyone, in spite of his determined work ethic and evolution from stock salesperson to major investor player, dominated by a daring spirit that believes anything can be conquered. Hugh, on the other hand, is a liberal who despises prejudice and will attempt to serve in the poorest areas of Africa and Haiti, as well as other places, drowning the horror and grief of these Dickensian experiences in alcohol and obsession with his wife.
A Dual Inheritance is a novel that reads to this reviewer like a John Cheever, Philip Roth or Chaim Potok story, one in which characters are dwarfed by their physical genetics (family) and stymied by their cultural (or historical) evolution. The latter is quite traumatic as charted within this novel, leaving behind our two main characters, their girlfriends, spouses, wives and children, who never fail to shock the reader with their understanding and reaction to historical realities. The intense desire for happiness coupled with the paralyzing lack of coping skills defines the essence of this remarkable work of historical fiction. This is a pivotal novel of social realism covering the last fifty years in America, Europe and Africa.