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An uproarious novel ("Both heart-piercing and, crucially, very funny." —Louise Erdrich, The New York Times) from the celebrated author of Single, Carefree, Mellow about the challenges of a good marriage, the delight and heartache of raising children, and the irresistible temptation to wonder about the path not taken.
When Graham Cavanaugh divorced his first wife it was to marry his girlfriend, Audra, a woman as irrepressible as she is spontaneous and fun. But, Graham learns, life with Audra can also be exhausting, constantly interrupted by chatty phone calls, picky-eater houseguests, and invitations to weddings of people he’s never met. Audra firmly believes that through the sheer force of her personality she can overcome the most socially challenging interactions, shepherding her son through awkward playdates and origami club, and even deciding to establish a friendship with Graham’s first wife, Elspeth. Graham isn't sure he understands why Audra longs to be friends with the woman he divorced. After all, former spouses are hard to categorize—are they enemies, old flames, or just people you know really, really well? And as Graham and Audra share dinners, holidays, and late glasses of wine with his first wife he starts to wonder: How can anyone love two such different women? Did I make the right choice? Is there a right choice? A hilarious and rueful debut novel of love, marriage, infidelity, and origami, Standard Deviation never deviates from the superb.
This first novel from Heiny (Single, Carefree, Mellow) meanders cheerfully along, making up for its relative lack of action with its humor and insight into characters. Introverted, middle-aged Graham has been married for 12 years to his talkative, younger second wife Audra, and he's beginning to wonder whether they're really suited for each other, or if he should have stuck with his "tall and slim and regal" attorney ex-wife Elspeth, with whom he's just begun speaking again. Graham and Audra have a 10-year-old son, Matthew, who is socially awkward and obsessed with origami, and about whom they spend a good deal of their mental energy worrying. They host Thanksgiving for an assortment of quirky characters, including the misfit adults from Matthew's origami club; take their son and a friend they nickname "Derek Rottweiler" on an ill-fated fishing expedition; and attend an unexpected funeral. Heiny has a flair for peculiar but believable dialogue, and a generous attitude towards even the most inept characters, particularly Graham, whose befuddlement about his life choices and his longing to smooth things out for his son persist throughout the changes in his life. At the heart of the novel is a finely tuned awareness of the fragility of the most seemingly permanent connections and the ambivalence shot through even the hardiest forms of love.