What kind of man would lie to his own wife about having cancer? A man desperate to avoid being saddled with life's responsibilities. A man like Paul.
On a miserable October afternoon, as he stares down at his brother's whiny new baby, Paul realizes he's run out of excuses. His wife wants a family, but the last thing Paul wants is dirty diapers and a constantly screaming stranger robbing him of sleep. Then a lump is discovered on his arm, and with a little elaboration, the parenthood question is rendered moot.
With the dwindling time he pretends he's got left, he intends to start looking out for number one. But his "cancer vacation" hits a snag when he meets a mother and son in an airport bar who turn everything around—and even bring Paul to the brink of a life he thought he never wanted—because sometimes a man's got to lose himself completely to discover who he really is.
In Marinovich s artful debut, married, childless Paul Mauro, 38, checks in with his doctor after a lump of cancer is removed from his bicep. He gets a clean bill of health and immediately starts dreading his life to come, which includes impregnating his wife, Lee. On the way out of the doctor s office he meets a beautiful woman, Alex, who has just been diagnosed with cancer. She assumes he s in the same boat, and Paul decides to play along. Paul, who narrates with a gallows humor, lies to Lee, too, about his condition and propels himself into a parallel fake-cancer world where women suddenly find him irresistibly brave. Paul s an unusally self-aware scoundrel, and his adventures, including his dread of fatherhood, are very funny in spots. The ending doesn t quite work, but readerly goodwill built up in the defter sequences compensates.