cover image You


Caroline Kepnes. Atria/Emily Bestler, $25 (422p) $25 ISBN 978-1-4767-8559-2

Debut novelist Kepnes%E2%80%99s seriously unsettling depiction of stalking nevertheless manages to invoke glimmers of sympathy for its perpetrator. Joe is working as a clerk at a bookstore on New York City%E2%80%99s Lower East Side when M.F.A. writing student Guinevere Beck (known as Beck) saunters in. Joe knows immediately that they%E2%80%99re meant to be together. What follows is a chronicle of Joe%E2%80%99s psychotic preoccupation with Beck, told in Joe%E2%80%99s relentless, alternately passionate and vitriolic narration and addressed to Beck as %E2%80%9Cyou.%E2%80%9D Astonishingly enough, his fixation materializes into a relationship of sorts. Joe, who is well-read but never attended college, has a chip on his shoulder about his education and class status and the assumptions people make about him. Beck, for her part, prefers to stir up dramas rather than seriously work on her writing. What%E2%80%99s most chilling about this novel, besides its plausibility, is the way in which Kepnes makes the reader empathize with Joe during the journey into his troubled mind. Her book will have readers looking over their shoulders%E2%80%94and examining their own motivations. Agent: Jennifer Rudolph Walsh and Claudia Ballard, WME Entertainment. (Sept.)