Commonwealth, Ann Patchett's wonderful new novel, opens with a random occurrence that will ultimately shatter two families. It's a Sunday in 1960s Los Angeles. Fix Keating, a cop, and his wife, Beverly, are hosting a christening party. A latecomer shows up: Bert Cousins from the D.A.'s office, a man Fix barely knows and distinctly hasn't invited. The charming interloper carries a bottle of gin as a makeshift gift, and Fix finds himself pumping Bert's hand, welcoming him.
Patron Saint of Liars, Ann Patchett. This was Patchett's debut novel, and she's clearly still finding her feet. But the story is solid and compelling and the characters are well-drawn, even if it does lack the depth of her later work. Highly recommended if you loved her short memoir The Getaway Car. (I loved The Getaway Car!)
The Very Busy Life of Novelist Ann Patchett. Ann Patchett talks about her new novel, 'Commonwealth,' and the kick she gets out of bookselling (even if it means sometimes staying up half the night mopping).