Bad Teeth

Dustin Long, Author
Dustin Long. Little A/New Harvest, $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-544-26200-3
MP3 CD - 978-1-4805-8499-0
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Long’s second novel following Icelander is a literary mash-up that is both a send-up of modern academic life and a heartfelt novel of loves lost and purposes vainly sought. Along the way, four lost souls briefly collide with painful breakups, a countercultural social movement called SOFA, and a series of revelatory dental calamities. Through four alliterative cities—Brooklyn; Bloomington, Ind.; Berkley, Calif.; and Bakersfield, Calif.—the characters are nominally united by a translator named Judas, whose quest to locate a mysterious Tibetan novelist provides the crux of the plot. Judas’s early promise has begun to wane, and his journey reveals the accidental connections between Adam, an M.F.A. candidate and burgeoning alcoholic; Selah, a self-loathing Korean-American; and the book’s unnamed narrator, a character whom we don’t meet until halfway through the novel. Through small epiphanies that ultimately redeem these seemingly hopeless souls and the quiet, yet unexpectedly deep musings by Long, the reader encounters a wondrous, funny, and philosophical novel that explores the ways in which adult contentment may be obscured by youthful egoism. (Mar.)
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