JEAN RECOMMENDS

In the middle of reading Jennifer Egan's new novel, I had a dream in which some alien presence was speaking to me. It was disquieting but unique, which is what I admire about this book. I can get tired of cleverness for its own sake, but this is cleverness done right. Highly recommended.

I'm also enjoying Maile Meloy's newest story collection, Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It. I am the president of Maile's fan club, and always look forward to anything she produces. Her stories have impact because they follow the classic structure of tragedy, moving us to pity and terror, even in the case of her unlikely cast of characters, mopes, losers, and the deeply lonely.

May I join all the world in commending Dan Chaon's Await Your Reply. Elegant, creepy, sinister: and I mean that as a compliment. I read it with suspense and real dread. Although the ambiguity of identity, at least, the high-tech version, is a modern theme, this is good old-fashioned story-telling at its best.

Finally, let me recommend Pete Rock's My Abandonment, a novel based on the real-life discovery of a father and his young daughter who lived for some time in Portland, Oregon's largest and wildest city park. As any good novelist does, Pete takes the facts and uses them as a springboard into a fully imagined story which explores the psychology of bonding and loss. And that story ends up in a place we don't see coming. Audacious and breathtaking.

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