The Accomplished Guest

Ann Beattie. Scribner, $25 (224p) ISBN 978-1-5011-1138-9
Growing old isn’t easy, as the aging intellectuals of Beattie’s latest story collection demonstrate. These 13 wry, chatty, seemingly random stories show disaffected husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents and children, professors and students in their 60s, 70s, and 80s at unsociable moments connected with social gatherings. In “The Indian Uprising,” once-promising poet Maude lunches at a Washington, D.C., restaurant with her former poetry professor. He has heart trouble and diabetes, can barely walk, and faces dialysis, but it is Maude who, after running into her ex-husband, faints. “For the Best” follows former model Gerald to a New York City Christmas party where he expects to see his ex-wife. She doesn’t appear until after he leaves the party, in the lobby of the hosts’ apartment building, when she jumps out, very drunk, from behind a Christmas tree. “The Astonished Woodchopper” describes resentments surfacing at a wedding via an argument about who will go to the airport to pick up the bride’s son. How childishly grown-ups can behave is made disturbingly clear in “The Debt,” about friends from college days extracting a costly revenge. Women sharing confidences are interrupted by a hold-up man in “The Gypsy Chooses the Whatever Card.” A sisterly reunion unravels in “Other People’s Birthdays.” Set in Maine, Charlottesville, East Coast cities, and Key West, Beattie’s stories capture the perplexity of people, lost in a world of terrorists and Kindles, as they make their way down what Beattie calls “the river of life’s confusion.” (June)
Reviewed on: 04/24/2017
Release date: 06/13/2017
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-5082-4164-5
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-5011-1140-2
Library Binding - 500 pages - 978-1-68324-468-4
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