cover image Jillian


Halle Butler. Curbside Splendor, $14.95 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-940430-29-4

Eternal optimist Jillian, 35, works in a gastroenterologist’s office in an upper-middle-class neighborhood in Chicago. New coworker Megan, 24, arrives in a state of permanent resentment: at having to work in such a stupid job, at Jillian and her much larger desk and chipper attitude. The duo’s total lack of self-awareness makes them the perfect yin and yang for Butler’s sly comedy of modern manners. When Jillian dreams of getting a cute dog, Megan is quick to cite the high cost of vet bills. Megan suffers from a handful of minor, but unpleasant, maladies and alienates her friends; Jillian blithely follows her own misguided bliss, leading her to neglect Adam, her young son. Heedless of outside advice, both women follow the paths they have chosen. As both women fray, this poison pill of a novel moves to its arch conclusion. Butler’s aim is perfect, and her touch deft. (Feb.)