Eureka

Texas-raised news anchor Jim Lehrer is too much the gentleman to author a full-blown satire, but he’s not above a genial send-up of middling America—the Midwest, the middle class, and the midlife crisis—in his crisply executed novel Eureka. Fifty-nine-year-old insurance executive Otis Halstead, secretly frustrated over his abandoned dreams of becoming a singer-song- writer (think Johnny Mercer, not Bob Dylan), scandalizes family and friends in Eureka, Kansas, by dropping large sums of cash to acquire the missing totems of his youth, including a Red Ryder BB gun and a 1952 Cushman Pacemaker motor scooter. Leaving a goodbye note for his wife and putt-putting away on old U.S. 56 does not make things better; crashing through a rotted bridge into the Chanute River makes them very bad indeed. Lehrer’s plot is outrageous, but he writes with savvy restraint. Irony seldom drips with such humor and grace. Random House, $24.95

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