I've been an Alice McDermott fan from way back, when she wrote That Night. Her new one, After This (FSG, Sept. 5), is evocative of that same place and time—1950s, '60s and '70s Long Island—and is about a Catholic family growing up there. I don't come from that background, but I found it seductive. She's so good at showing the inner dynamics of the family, then layering in what's going on with the country: Vietnam, sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll, and how it all tears the family apart. Her style is refreshing and a little surprising. The way she phrases things—no one else does it like her. I read a fair number of authors that other men don't read, but I wouldn't say this is a woman's book. It's just a really well-written book that evokes the period in a timeless way. It will hit a chord with baby boomers, but anyone will like it.