At the Sign of the Naked Waiter

At the Sign of the Naked Waiter is a lovely, vaguely mystical debut novel about a sad and baffled woman who’s trying to hang on to the floating world. At the outset of the book, Sarah is approaching 13. She has a handsome, mercurial older brother, Fred, and a wonderfully vivid best friend, Robin, who’s given to outrageous lies and melodramatic actions. Sarah herself is a daydreamer who experiences the usual rites of passage: She loses her virginity. She goes to law school. She dates a few bozos. Eventually, she marries Milo, a buttoned-up type who disapproves of Robin. What’s extraordinary about Herrick’s novel is that this overly familiar material should exert such a sure, steady pull on the reader. She writes movingly about the way our lives are continually shaped by action, inaction, coincidence, and compromise: ”It might be as her brother had said, that we were, each of us, no one thing but a billion different events strung out over time.” A-

At the Sign of the Naked Waiter
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