The Error of Our Ways

David Carkeet, Author Henry Holt & Company $25 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8050-4502-4
Domestic comedy is Carkeet's forte, and his fifth novel is a shrewd, wickedly funny delight, full of hilarious takes on rocky marriages, sexual boredom, raising kids, communication gaps--and nutty doings, as in almonds and cashews. Ben Hudnut, 44-year old owner of Crunch, a gourmet nut emporium in St. Louis, finds his life unraveling. A clandestine extramarital affair a decade ago now threatens to derail his marriage. His distrustful, suicidal 18-year-old daughter, Andrea (who knows about his affair), may be sleeping with her English teacher. Ben is so preoccupied with nuts, he can't connect emotionally with his four daughters, and he's totally caught off-guard when Roberta, his quiet, loyal secretary, embezzles a quarter of a million dollars, wiping him out. Into this morass steps befuddled wordsmith Jeremy Cook (who cleared a forest of fuzzy language in Double Negative and The Full Catastrophe). Jeremy, a born loner, an unemployed, embattled linguist in a world indifferent to words and their meanings, is enlisted to study the speech patterns of the Hudnuts' foul-mouthed toddler Molly, but he has his own domestic troubles; his earnest wife, Paula Nouvelles, a linguist at mediocre Buford University, is plotting to annul their marriage, a secret Jeremy accidentally discovers from a voicemail message. As Jeremy, an anthropologist of words and gestures, decodes the self-projecting (and self-protective) linguistic quirks of politicians, conservatives, restaurant patrons, tennis players and the Hudnuts, Carkeet navigates the slippery terrain between our public personas and inner selves. And as Jeremy makes blundering attempts to help Ben straighten out his life, Carkeet, a delectable observer of human foibles and pretense, delivers a wise meditation on how we unwittingly affect the course of other people's existences.. This sparkling novel transcends the genre of academic satire and should win Carkeet a broad following. Author readings. Rights: Karpfinger Agency. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
Paperback - 275 pages - 978-0-8050-5604-4
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-0-7089-5865-0
Paperback - 275 pages - 978-0-8050-7114-6
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-59020-354-5
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4683-0294-3
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-4683-0295-0
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