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Ann Beattie's fifth novel focuses on the emotional messes that ensnare New England college professor Marshall Lockard and, before him, his father Miles. "It's enough to make one wince," says TIME's Martha Duffy. "Setting her story in academia -- a trap for many novelists -- Beattie readily succumbs to the temptation to flaunt the detritus of years of reading, watching and listening to the culture. In the opening five pages are references to Richard Nixon, Elvis Presley, Henry Kissinger and Marianne Faithfull. Though an authentic voice of the late 1970s and '80s, with a particular talent for detail and dialogue, Beattie's style unfortunately has become dreary, unforceful, and dated."