The Way We Live Now

Two satires on the quotidian miseries of middle-class existence, one set at home, the other at work

All satire has a certain measure of futility built into it. If you were really serious about solving a problem, the reader can't help thinking, you wouldn't be sitting around crafting a gently mocking novel about it; you'd be out there doing something. The real targets of satire tend to be impervious to it, anyway. As Jonathan Swift put it, "Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own." Of course, Swift is talking about far less sophisticated readers than you and I. Poor suckers.

But Tom Perrotta's suburban satire, Little Children (St. Martin's;...

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