In The Floodmakers (Putnam), Houstonian Mylène Dressler applies a sort of emotional calculus to solve the relationships between struggling New York playwright Harry Buelle and his sister, Sarah, stepmother, Jean, and father, Dee, now 81 but in his time a successful writer for the New York stage. Summoned to visit his slightly eccentric parents at their Texas beach house, Harry measures his own failures (the writing isn't going so well, and his boyfriend is a disaster) against Dee's stellar career and cantankerous joie de vivre. The Floodmakers is staged like an Off-Broadway drama, and Dressler writes with a casual brilliance that allows this little gem of a book to sparkle and shine.

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