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The book I'm giving as a Christmas gift this year is The Stud Book by Monica Drake. As always, Drake is funny without resorting to shtick or snarkiness. And she's brilliant without hiding behind cleverness. Reading the novel, I wasn't constantly distracted by postmodern tricks and gimmicks. Drake's writing has the clarity and charm of Joyce Maynard's Baby Love or Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son.
The characters in The Stud Book are as conflicted and endearing as those of Junot Díaz and Nami Mun. Reading the book, you want everyone depicted in it to be real. You'll wish the 336 pages would stretch to 1,000 because you won't want to leave Drake's world where people get by skating along on good intentions and hope.