The Half-life of Happiness

THE HALF-LIFE OF HAPPINESS John Casey (Knopf, $25) You strain very hard to like this sprawling new novel by John Casey (1989 National Book Award winner for Spartina), in which small-time Charlottesville, Va., lawyer Mike Reardon confronts his tightly wound family’s long, slow unraveling by…mounting a run for Congress. And you almost do: It’s filled with faintly absurd situations and accidents and peopled by a pleasant orbit of liberal eccentrics who drink wine and make halting passes at one another. But the author carelessly manages the interspersed narratives of both Reardon’s wife (who’s discovering her lesbianism) and his resentful daughters. The novel is true to life, almost too true; it overflows with talky flotsam. B-

The Half-life of Happiness
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