By Rebecca Ascher-Walsh
Updated February 15, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

From the moment nihilistic writer Harry March awakens in his home in the Hamptons, that New York summer refuge, only to be bitten in the ear by his talking West Highland terrier, it’s clear that our hero is not in a good place. Roger Rosenblatt’s uproarious debut, Lapham Rising unfolds over one day as March tries to halt construction of a neighboring McMansion and ignore his wisecracking dog, who wants to go to business school. ”One reason I became a writer is that a writer’s connections with people are made at long distance,” March explains. ”I would seek therapy, but I do not want to connect with an analyst.” Infusing a miserable, eccentric grouch with such humanity is a true feat; Rosenblatt wields his satiric saber with skill and compassion.

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