It's been a tough year for Harry Quirk, the middle-aged poet in Kate Christensen's sardonic but wistful novel, The Astral (Doubleday). His wife has kicked him out, wrongly convinced that he's having an affair. The split becomes fodder for the aging bohemians of Harry's Brooklyn neighborhood. When long marriages dissolve, Harry observes, "it's as if Fuji or Fiji had disappeared overnight." This novel suggests that even deeply rooted relationships can be dismantled, and that sometimes it's best to just cut your losses.