Isn’t it monstrous the way people go around nowadays saying things behind people’s backs that are absolutely and entirely true? In these 11 exquisitely bitchy yet oddly loving stories, Carey effortlessly outdoes Jay McInerney as a talebearer of Manhattan’s hipoisie, who nurture big dreams in tiny sublets way into their 30s, sustained by envy — and, of course, by gossip. Good Gossip may or may not be a roman á clef (one character is inspired by Vanity Fair writer Ben Brantley), but its meticulous repartee is infinitely more realistic than McInerney’s in Bright Lights, Big City. Carey makes us care about vitriolic Eileen, an overnight sensation as a playwright, and Dee’s mysterious friendship with that teenage boy who smashed the mirror at that party, and Fern, a New Age sprite —” spooky as an underground cave” — who has moved in with ex-bohemian Susannah, who once escaped murder by a sculptor swain on acid but failed to escape a dull hubby in the suburbs. Like a lot of loosely plotted fiction published in The New Yorker (where two chapters appeared), Good Gossip is not exactly goal- oriented. But it’s beautifully written, and like TV’s Northern Exposure, it deftly insinuates us into a snug circle of eccentric new friends. A-

Good Gossip
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