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The Land of Steady Habitsby Ted Thompson
Synopses & Reviews
"This assured, compassionate first novel channels the suburban angsty of Updike and Cheever...with pitch-perfect prose and endearingly melancholy characters."--Booklist (Starred Review)
Anders Hill, entering his early sixties and seemingly ensconced in the "land of steady habits"--a nickname for the affluent, morally strict hamlets of Connecticut that dot his commuter rail line--abandons his career and family for a new condo and a new life. Stripped of the comforts of his previous identity, Anders turns up at a holiday party full of his ex-wife's friends and is suprised to find that the very world he rejected may be one he needs.
Thus Anders embarks on a clumsy, hilarious, and heartbreaking journey to reconcile his past with his present. Like the early work of John Updike, Ted Thompson's first novel finely observes a man in deep conflict with his community. With compassion for its characters and fresh insight into the American tradition of the "suburban narrative," THE LAND OF STEADY HABITS introduces an auspicious talent.
"Late-life divorce is the subject of Thompson's acutely written first novel. Approaching retirement age, Anders Hill is recently divorced from his wife, Helene. They have two adult children, who don't seem especially fond of their father, especially the troubled younger one, Preston, who has yet to find himself. But as lost as Preston is, he is still in much better condition than Charlie, the substance-abusing, preppy son of Helene's best friends who inexplicably turns to Anders for support, this at a time when Anders is having difficulty supporting himself, both financially and spiritually. Things become even more complicated when Anders finds out that Helene is living in his old house with a new lover, Donny, a mutual friend from their college days. As a wickedly sharp framing device, Anders's travails come to a head during the Christmas season. This novel is basically a series of confrontations, but Thompson is a master at dramatically pitting one character against another. The story takes place in Connecticut, and the author proves to be as keen an observer of this social scene as his literary forebears, Cheever and Updike. Anders, Helene, their children, lovers and friends, might not be the most likable group of characters you'll come across, but the author humanizes them in a way that makes their problems relatable." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Ted Thompson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, where he was awarded a Truman Capote Fellowship. His work has appeared in Tin House and Best New American Voices, among other publications. He was born in Connecticut and lives in Brooklyn with his wife.
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