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The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson

Land of Steady Habits

As a young man, Anders Hill was rather a rebel, abandoning his stifling southern roots, estranging himself from his acerbic father by forsaking Duke University for an exclusive New England college. There he fell in love with his roommate’s girlfriend who would become his wife. Becoming a husband, then father, he lived a life of ‘steady habits’ with the comfortable salary afforded by a New York finance job. Anders ensconced his family in a lovely house, raised not-exactly-grateful children, and sent them all off to college.

Now newly retired, Anders lives up to his name – anders in German means other, as in something else, something different – by shedding all his ‘steady habits’: he leaves his wife, his home, and buys a nearby condominium in “a gated complex whose units had been designed to resemble a New England village.”

He’s self-absorbed enough to be surprised that his left-behind spouse recovers just fine, his children are more worried about him than their quickly-moved-on mother, and that bachelorhood in his 60s is perhaps not at all as he expected. Somehow he ends up in domestic debt, the keeper of a turtle and graphic novel that belongs to someone else’s son, and collecting Christmas gifts when he’s not exactly welcome at the annual family dinner. Not to mention, he really needs to figure out how to live the rest of his unexpected new life.

While Ted Thompson’s debut novel might be a pitch-perfect encapsulation of entitled millennial malaise, in the decades ahead, it just might prove to be a timeless classic, as well. [If you choose to go aural, Joe Barrett’s patrician narration wavers between just the right balance of denial and panic.] As much as Habits is a sharp, discerning look at suburban commuter Connecticut – arguably the epitome of upper-middle-class homogeneity – it’s also quite the tragicomedy of errors readily exposing the not-always-obvious missteps of white male privilege.

Readers: Adult

Published: 2014


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