cover image HOUSEHUSBAND


Ad Hudler, . . Ballantine, $23.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-345-45126-2

The novel of feminist awakening is given an unexpected twist in Hudler's entertaining debut: its protagonist is a man. Lincoln Menner, once a California landscape designer, is now a stay-at-home dad who knows every creak and crevice of his huge suburban Rochester, N.Y., house. He is plagued by insecurities about wife Jo's high-profile job, three-year-old daughter Violet's schooling and development and his own wrestling with wanting—and not wanting—to be the perfect man to everyone. In a burst of self-pity, he contemplates his situation: "I felt as helpless as Amelia Earhart, alive on some island, reading a copy of Aviation Today that had washed up on the beach." Meanwhile, Linc's mother, Carol, a deferential wife who temporarily escapes her unimaginative car-salesman husband after stealing one of his own vehicles and driving off to explore the country and herself, provides an alternate voicing of desire and longing through her on-the-road e-mails to her son. The themes of career, family and power struggles between the sexes are prosaic, and the occasional recipes inserted into the text seem out of place, but Linc's plaintive observations about passing days alone and, finally, his self-acceptance, redeem his narrative. 5-city author tour. (May)