22 Minutes of Unconditional Love
By Daphne Merkin
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
About The Book
"An arresting novel that explores the alchemy of contradictions that exist in all great works of literature. Observant and witty, Merkin makes each sentence pack a provocative wallop. So, come for the promise of a compulsively readable novel ― 'Obsession makes for good copy,' the narrator tells us ― and stay for a fascinating lesson on the making of art."
—Adrienne Brodeur, The New York Times Book Review
A novel of unsurpassed candor, punctuated by bold ruminations on love, marriage, family, sex, gender, and relationships, 22 Minutes of Unconditional Love depicts one woman’s psychological descent into sexual captivity. This is the story of the extremes to which she will go to achieve erotic bliss―and of her struggle to regain her soul.
As Daphne Merkin’s audacious new novel opens, a wife and mother looks back at the moment when her life as a young book editor is upended by a casual encounter with an intriguing man who seems to intuit her every thought.
Convinced she’s found the one, Judith Stone succumbs to the push and pull of her sexual entanglement with Howard Rose, constantly seeking his attention and approval. That is, until she realizes that beneath his erotic obsession with her, Howard is intent on obliterating any sense of self she possesses. As Merkin writes, his was “the allure of remoteness, affection edged in ice.” Escaping Howard’s grasp―and her own perverse enjoyment of being under his control―will test the limits of Judith’s capacity to resist the siren call of submission.
Narrated by Judith in a time before the #MeToo movement, 22 Minutes of Unconditional Love charts the persistent hold the past has on us and the way it shapes our present.
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About the Author
Daphne Merkin is the author of the novel Enchantment, which won the Edward Lewis Wallant Award for best novel on a Jewish theme, as well as collections of essays and a memoir, This Close to Happy. A former staff writer for The New Yorker, her essays frequently appear in The New York Times, Bookforum, The New Republic, Departures, ELLE, Travel + Leisure, Tablet, and many other publications. Merkin has taught writing at the 92nd Street Y, Marymount Manhattan College, and Hunter College, and she currently teaches at Columbia University’s MFA program. She lives in New York City.