These likable, well-crafted Gen-X essays explore the surface disillusionment and middle-class compromises of growing older. With comic skill, Zevin (The Nearly-Wed Handbook; Entry-Level Life) takes a sentimental first-person approach to suburban adult dilemmas such as wine tastings, lawn care, the starter home and the contrast between the freewheeling college semester abroad and the fearful, sensible 30-something European vacation. Each chapter is a "confession," e.g., "I played golf"; "I joined a health club"; and "I have dabbled in the world of stress management." Zevin is simultaneously satisfied with his grown-up status and piqued about the changes it has brought: "The way I figure it, all my friends were pretty much in the same economic boat when we were first starting out, falling into the tax bracket officially known as 'piss-poor.' Then some of us stopped being piss-poor. Some of us even stopped being 'cautiously comfortable.' Some of us actually become 'fabulously well-to-do.' Those of us who wrote this book do not fall into that last tax bracket, much to our chagrin. This has made it somewhat challenging to socialize with those of them who do." His book sticks mainly to the surface inconveniences endured by everyone he knows, and largely skips the scarier, more abstract questions that are sending his generational cohorts for an existential loop—loneliness, mortality and the meaning of things. As in many works that come to terms with losing youth forever, there's an otherworldly sad song humming beneath the levity of the prose. Agent, Jennifer Rudolph Walsh. (On sale June 11)
Forecast:Zevin is an established freelancer who has published in
Spy and is a comic correspondent for NPR's WBUR. His book should do well in Cambridge, Mass.—where he lives—and in young cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago.