O's Top 20 Books to Read This Summer
The must-reads that'll take you straight through to Labor Day.
16 of 20
The Accomplished Guest
It's "the river of life's confusion" that pulses through every story in Beattie's latest collection: An ex-spouse turns up unexpectedly at a holiday party, and old feelings come flooding back; a woman returns home to visit her parents and finds a former boyfriend is in regular conversation with her dad. She advises her father: "I can't tell you who to talk to...but I don't talk to him anymore." He replies, "You're hard-hearted, we all know that." Since 1974, when she was first published in The New Yorker, Beattie has cracked wise, regarding with an arch skepticism a world that has a habit of shocking you into awareness just when you're about to relax. "What mysteries people can be," exclaims a character in the story "For the Best," and that's exactly what Beattie celebrates: the quirky glory in us all.