We gave it an A-
Ashley Warlick’s Dickinson College project-turned-novel The Distance From the Heart of Things earned her the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship, making her the award’s youngest-ever recipient and vaulting her into the company of past winners like Robert Penn Warren, Elizabeth Bishop, and Philip Roth. Such precociousness might be hate inducing if the book weren’t so good. After college, Mavis Black returns to her family’s South Carolina vineyard, where she works as an accountant — and where she begins to examine her relationships with members of her oddball clan and her overly intellectual college boyfriend. Mavis is a refreshing — almost shocking — anomaly in Generation X noveldom, domain of sad-sack twentysomethings who whine: a young female with confidence who states, ”I like weight placed on me,” a woman who trusts her own judgment.