Another You

Ann Beattie, Author
Ann Beattie, Author Alfred A. Knopf $24 (323p) ISBN 978-0-679-40078-3
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-679-73464-2
Hardcover - 978-0-517-17386-2
Hardcover - 978-0-614-15480-1
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-01244-8
Ebook - 221 pages - 978-0-307-76578-9
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Successfully avoiding the one-note, affectless deadpan to which her work was in danger of succumbing, Beattie provides plenty of dramatic tension in this absorbing narrative of a man emotionally distanced from his life. Marshall Lockard, youngish professor at a small New England college, is a peevish, condescending loner; his career is at a dead end and his marriage to Sonja is passionless. When he impulsively stops his car to pick up an attractive student, he has a vague idea of starting an affair with her. But the story Cheryl tells him--that her roommate says she's been abused and raped by Jack McCallum, a colleague of Marshall's in the English department--gradually enmeshes Marshall in McCallum's very messy life. Seeing echoes of his own personality in McCallum's passive sadness, Marshall begins slowly to acknowledge the complexities of his life, including the harmful effects of his father's bullying and his mother's early death. Meanwhile, the reader has been puzzling over a series of undated letters interspersed throughout the narrative; written to a woman called Martine (whose identity, when it is finally revealed on a tombstone, brings past and present together), they are penned by an obviously cold, arrogant, manipulative man who signs only his initial. Eventually, the letters hold a clue to Marshall's emotionally crippled personality. Though this novel has a few maladroit episodes (e.g., the true identity of Cheryl's roommate is gratuitously melodramatic), Beattie's writing has a new immediacy and intensity. The enduring effects of childhood trauma, which she explored in her previous novel, Picturing Will, are here conveyed with wit, irony and compassion. (Sept.)
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