Another You by Ann Beattie

By Ann Beattie

To her newest novel, Beattie brings a similar documentary accuracy and Chekhovian wit and tenderness that experience made her some of the most acclaimed portraitists of up to date American lifestyles. Marshall Lockard, a professor on the neighborhood collage, is considering adultery, unaware that his spouse is already committing it.

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Gangrenous molds took to the foundations before the roofs were fairly nailed down. Mud crept up their sides and paint fell away in long white slashes. Some terrible plague seemed to overtake them one by one. They were rented to families of gaunt hollow-eyed and darkskinned people, not Mellungeons and not exactly anything else, who reproduced with such frightening prolificness that their entire lives appeared devoted to the production of the ragged line of scions which shoeless and tattered sat for hours at a time on the porch edges, themselves not unlike the victims of some terrible disaster, and stared out across the blighted land with expressions of neither hope nor wonder nor despair.

The drinkers would pause, liquid tilting in their glasses, the structure would shudder violently, a broom would fall, a bottle, and the inn would slowly right itself and assume once more its normal reeling equipoise. The drinkers would raise their glasses, talk would begin again. Remarks alluding to the eccentricities of the inn were made only outside the building. To them the inn was animate as any old ship to her crew and it bred an atmosphere such as few could boast, a solidarity due largely to its very precariousness.

You’ns get in here. We goin to Knoxville, proud to hep ye out. Sylder presented them each with a welcoming smile as they climbed in and studied each in turn his face under the domelight. He dropped into the Hopper—the steep twin fork road—without braking. The little one between him and Tipton squealed once and then hushed with her hand clapped over her mouth as they swerved across the pike and shot out into blackness, the lights slapping across the upper reaches of trees standing sharply up the side of the hollow.

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