cover image This Is Where We Live

This Is Where We Live

Janelle Brown, Author . Random/Spiegel & Grau $25 (316p) ISBN 978-0-385-52403-2

Married 30-something artists Claudia and Jeremy Munger are the unlucky anchors of Brown's shaky sophomore novel, an of-the-moment time capsule in the mold of her well-received All We Ever Wanted Was Everything . Claudia is a filmmaker whose first feature is about to be released; Jeremy is a musician on the brink of mainstream success; together they are living in boho splendor in a newly purchased L.A. bungalow. But when Claudia's film bombs, Jeremy's band breaks up, their adjustable rate mortgage balloons, and Jeremy's famous painter ex-girlfriend, Aoki, comes back on the scene, the Mungers' sense of themselves is harshly tested. The gauntlets the Mungers face verge on Kafkaesque, yet the novel proceeds with painful earnestness. Particularly detracting are the one-note supporting characters: Jeremy and Claudia's parents, an annoying roommate, the corpulent potential producer of Claudia's next film. Aoki, meanwhile, plays a pivotal role but is burdened with a heavy load of temperamental artist clichés. There are lovely small moments—Claudia's awkward run-in with a former student, for instance—that give hope that the undeniably talented author will find her footing again after this flawed effort. (June)