Aurelie Sheehan, Author . Penguin $14 (278p) ISBN 978-0-14-200370-1

The languors of office life and frustrated dreams are explored in this off-beat first novel by Sheehan (after the short story collection Jack Kerouac Is Pregnant ). Winona Bartlett, a 29-year-old would-be filmmaker as well as secretary, is single, lives in a studio apartment with her cat, works for a Manhattan law firm and is dating a man she refers to as "Jeremy the Sincere." Although she is not in love with him, or any part of her life for that matter, she is going through the motions. Promoted from secretary to office manager, she displays appropriate gratitude even if it is a step in the opposite direction of her dream. The promotion, a cash bonus and a handful of perks all seem to come as fringe benefits of her friendship with the firm's newest lawyer, an elegantly beautiful and mysterious blind woman, Sandy Spires. Despite Winona's vague uneasiness about Sandy's overtures and unorthodox requests, she simply goes along. After all, the extra money makes it possible to buy a camera and begin work on her film, tentatively titled The Anxiety of Everyday Objects which is about a woman, well, a lot like Winona. A friendship with Rex, an upstanding young attorney at the firm, finally rouses her conscience and leads her to probe more closely into irregularities at work. The ensuing plot twists present opportunities for the stubbornly naïve heroine to discover just how much integrity she can muster. Sheehan's self-consciously choppy prose and whimsical asides give the novel a halting rhythm, but readers who persevere will find the surprise ending tartly satisfying. 5-city author tour. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/23/2004
Release date: 02/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0470-5
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