Ann Beattie's book Mrs. Nixon is so good. I recommend you read it, though I am not one otherwise necessarily familiar with Ann Beattie's work and that with which I am familiar has left me familiarly unimpressed. She's been too smart for me in the past in the way I don't like people and writers to be smart, writing as if she's watching herself writing, writing as if she's expecting me to be impressed with not only the writing but with her person as well. She's probably a very nice person, and if not a nice person a good person, a person whose value system is some version of the same liberal humanism I seem to be so attracted to. I am resisting the temptation to Google Ann Beattie--preferring to preserve the self-made image I've created of her. Besides, her picture and bio are on the inside back cover of the book: she's smiling and the bio says that she is Edgar Allen Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia
Among other things, Ann Beattie's book, Mrs. Nixon, is a seminar on contemporary literature, from Chekhov forward, with a really adept kind of People magazine sensibility at work as well. In what other book might you learn that Mrs. Nixon gave two books to Mr. Nixon during their courtship and that Mr. Nixon responded to the gift by writing, "I have always wanted to read Karl Marx in order to be familiar with it. De Maupassant writes the best short stories the world has ever read."
As a conceptual piece, the book is flawless.