Picks and Pans Review: Lapham Rising

updated 02/27/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/27/2006 AT 01:00 AM EST

By Roger Rosenblatt

Once-famous author and dyed-in-the-wool curmudgeon Harry March lives on an island in the Hamptons, all alone save for his talking, evangelical dog Hector and a statue of his ex-wife. Harry hates himself and the Hamptons, but his real problem is his neighbor Silas Lapham, the atrociously wealthy heir to an asparagus-tongs fortune who's building a 36,000-sq.-ft. home next door. Harry vents his anger via notes: "Neither should a [house] stand as a temple to individual glory," he writes. "Even Gatsby's house was not that." This first novel from Rosenblatt (a former columnist for Time, which, like PEOPLE, is owned by Time Warner) is a hysterically funny class-comedy—the sort of deeply humorous stuff that makes you wonder what would happen if Don DeLillo did stand-up or whether Rosenblatt is secretly British. It will entertain anyone who has ever encountered someone they've disliked on sight, with plenty of sad truths about the in-crowd included.

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