Friday, April 30, 2010

The Heights

The Heights - Hedges's first novel in more than a decade reads a lot like Tom Perrotta minus the satire or Jonathan Tropper with less humor, but Hedges's excellent characterization and writing render it a worthy outing. Tim Welch and Kate Oliver are happily married, living the urban dream in Brooklyn Heights, until the wealthy and beautiful Anna Brody moves in nearby, forcing them to question if happiness is enough. Anna's arrival coincides with the forced retirement of Tim's father, a celebrated women's basketball coach, due to a sexual scandal; a lucrative job for Kate; and the reappearance of Kate's former love, now a television star. And while the entire neighborhood is fascinated with Anna, it's Tim and Kate she pulls into her orbit—intent on taking Tim as a lover—causing the seams of their marriage to fray and forcing them into situations they never would have predicted for themselves, even if the reader isn't exactly surprised at how things play out. The plot tends toward busy, but Hedges (What's Eating Gilbert Grape) keeps it under control, his sympathetically real characters holding down the novel's solid center.
NY Times book review is here.

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