Adam Weller is a moderately successful novelist, past his prime, but squiring around a much younger woman and still longing for greater fame and glory. His former wife, Eleanor, is unhappily playing the role of the overweight, discarded woman. Their daughter Maud has just begun a frankly sexual affair that unexpectedly becomes life-changing. Into each of these lives the past intrudes in a way that will test them to their core. With perfect pitch and a rare empathy, Brian Morton is equally adept at portraying the life of the mind and how it plays out in the world, brilliantly tracing the border between honor and violation. Here Morton tells his strongest story yeta story about love, friendship, literary treachery, and what each of us owes to the past.
While the story of two broken couples-one by infidelity, one by tragedy-contains a number of maudlin moments, this polished novel's touchy-feely title belies the trenchant humor of its take on contemporary New York, especially its literary scene. Adam Weller-one of the more engaging scoundrels in recent fiction-is an aging, semirenowned novelist whose star is on the wane. Petty, egocentric and devious, he has left his wife, Eleanor, for a beautiful, ambitious younger woman, Thea. Through a series of improbable events, he acquires a late rival's long-lost, unpublished manuscript, a masterpiece which he appropriates and sells as his own, in hopes of reviving his flagging career. Eleanor, an Upper West Side therapist, struggles to recover from their breakup, even as an old college sweetheart tries to reconnect with her. Meanwhile, their daughter, Maud, a philosophy grad student with a history of depression, enters into an unlikely but intense affair with Samir, a man haunted by the death of his young daughter from a previous marriage. The interwoven plots proceed briskly toward what could be a spectacularly melodramatic climax, but despite occasional contrivances, Morton (Starting Out in the Evening) brings the novel to a quietly moving conclusion. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.