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Editor's Choice: 'Meet John Trow'

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Thomas Dyja’s haunting novel unfolds like a new-millennium Babbitt with a supernatural twist. Meet John Trow (Viking, $24.95) begins as a yuppie satire that follows Steven Armour, a miserable married father of two who’s just been passed over for a meaningless promotion by his boss (and, worse yet, former assistant). Faster than you can say midlife crisis, Armour impulsively enlists as a Civil War reenactor. Soon, his 19th-century alter ego, Pvt. John Trow, takes over. He grows a beard, dons period underwear, and finds a more assertive voice. He also picks up elaborate Union Army drill routines after only browsing the literature and develops murderous impulses toward Colonel Kellogg (a.k.a. his son’s mild-mannered history teacher) and an uncontrollable lust for Kellogg’s wife. Dyja unpacks plausible surprises as he lampoons the modern obsession with nostalgia and explores the very nature of identity. AThom Geier