cover image A Field Guide to Awkward Silences

A Field Guide to Awkward Silences

Alexandra Petri. NAL, $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-451-46960-1

Washington Post columnist Petri plumbs the depth of her own awkwardness in this hilarious collection of essays reliving incidents like attending the Fortieth Annual International Whistling Convention, competing in the O. Henry Pun-Off, and speed dating at a Star Wars convention. Petri confesses to a teen infatuation with Robert E. Lee, complete with fan fiction, and the rare ability to "summon elderly men from great distances." There are Oscar Wildean bon mots, like the perfectly absurd statement that "Every friend group has a Karen, and if you don't know instantly who it is, it's you." Petri's humor is complemented by her capacity for articulating insights. An appearance on Jeopardy sparks a lament on the decline of trivia in the digital age, and a debutante ball dispels a wistful nostalgia for the past with the sad realization that "No one notices [they're] living in a golden age." Funny, smart, and indeed supremely awkward, Petri's literary debut is everything her fans might expect and more. Agent: Anna Sproul-Latimer, Ross Yoon Agency. (June)