Every so often, I read a novel and I experience all the clich├ęs: my heart leaps into my throat, my pulse races, I'm stunned speechless. All this tawdry emotion occurs when I read sentences like this:

"He wasn't a seducer. He was remote. He was like a man preceded into a room by acrobats."

Or this:

"Now it was like the labored conversation among guests at a late hour after there is nothing more to say, nothing but ashes in the fireplace, dishes in the sink, a chill in the room, a return to ordinary estrangement."

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.

Before I read Adelle Waldman's brilliant debut novel, The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., I had about as much interest in reading about the hip, young literary types who've colonized Brooklyn as I do in watching Duck Dynasty, that reality show about a family of bearded Luddites who live in the Louisiana swamps. Both clans are ingrown and smug, each, in their own way, disdainful of the American mainstream.