cover image The Inhabited World

The Inhabited World

David Long, . . Houghton Mifflin, $23 (277pp) ISBN 978-0-618-54335-9

A voyeuristic ghost examines his life and his reasons for ending it in this intriguing but slight psychological drama from Long (The Falling Boy ). Evan Malloy has haunted his Seattle-area home since his suicide in 1992, but it isn't until the summer of 2002, when single 30-something Maureen Keniston moves in, that Evan discovers the purpose of his restless afterlife. As Maureen tries to end a two-year affair with a married doctor, Evan reflects on his own infidelities and failed marriage. Despite the one-sided relationship between the haunter and haunted—Evan remains undetectable to the world of the living—Long manages to build suspense as Evan recounts the events that took him from happily married man to suicidal failure. Evan's and Maureen's hunt for the strength and wisdom to escape their "conditions" anchors this ghost story in the simple tale of two lost souls figuring out what they need from this world. Nevertheless, Long's languid prose gives a fairy tale quality to his protagonists' domestic crises and emphasizes their shared babe-in-the-woods innocence, making them difficult to identify with and easy to forget about. (July)