Love drifts off course in the

Love is a Ca­noe

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books - Eleanor Lim­precht

By Ben Schrank Text Pub­lish­ing, 352pp, $29.99

FIRST, there are two ca­noes: Love is a Ca­noe, a novel by Amer­i­can writer and pub­lisher Ben Schrank, and ‘‘ Mar­riage is a Ca­noe’’, a fic­tional self-help book within the novel. The novel’s main char­ac­ter, Emily Bab­son, reads as a girl her par­ents’ copy of Mar­riage is a Ca­noe. She is con­vinced she can take on its lessons and have a happy mar­riage — dif­fer­ent from her mum and dad.

‘‘ A good mar­riage is a ca­noe — it needs care and isn’t meant to hold too much — no more than two adults and a few kids.’’ The book is meant to be The Joy of Sex for mar­riage, a touch­stone for baby boomers. It is full of metaphors of leaky boats and love, and ad­mon­ish­ments to ‘‘ stay in your own ca­noe’’.

But de­spite tak­ing to heart all this ad­vice, 30-some­thing Emily is hav­ing re­la­tion­ship trou­ble. She is wor­ried her hus­band, Eli, is

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