Do you remember college? Jeffrey Eugenides does, and he brings all of the dizzying highs and emotional lows to brilliant life in The Marriage Plot (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28), his first novel since he won the Pulitzer Prize for Middlesex ten years ago. Eugenides follows a trio of Brown University students through the early 1980s. Cloistered on Providence’s College Hill, they immerse themselves in literature, philosophy, and semiotics—but how can mere texts help them in love, or in navigating the paralyzing recession they graduate into in 1982? No one makes these themes vibrate as freshly as Eugenides. There is no better send-up of that gorgeously experimental undergraduate phase, when trying on a new identity was as easy as switching your major, and when books really did have the power to change your life.
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