As our 10-year-old wars in Afghanistan and Iraq bleed into a new conflict in Libya, maybe we could use something more creative than “the surge” to bring peace. For the weary women in Aristophanes’ ancient comedy “Lysistrata,” the answer was an anti-surge: a sex strike until the men lay down their arms. It worked 2,400 years ago — in the bawdy Greek play — but in the theatre of foreign policy, America has perfected a method of prosecuting foreign wars without inconveniencing most of its citizens. If we’re not going to give up shopping, we’re certainly not going to give up sex.
Those distant wars provide the faint political backdrop for Meg Wolitzer’s romantic comedy “The Uncoupling.” It’s set in Stellar Plains, N.J., a stellar suburban community where the new drama teacher is directing a production of “Lysistrata.” For a first-year teacher at a public high school, that seems about as likely as a sixth-grade production of “Hair.” (In my high school, we had to change the lyrics of Eric Clapton’s “Cocaine” to “Propane,” but that was the Midwest.) In any case, this isn’t the only element of magic that Wolitzer introduces into her charming novel about love gone stale.