A Happy Marriage, Rafael Yglesias
What a sucker punch of a novel. Joyce Carol Oats said the prose had subtle irony. Maybe I missed that. Certainly there's a wry self observation. But it's a double bildungsroman, first of the young man failing in love, then of the middle aged man repairing and recreating a deep powerful marriage, so a wry note is inevitable. Overall I wasn't reading this book for the technique and I don't care as much about it as about the fact that this is a big emotional story that works through the compilation of thousands of ordinary details. Yglesias has the art of turning a collection of mundane details from ordinary lives into a book that can make you cry.
Every page has something to pull you forward and the structure looks obvious but has at least two big surprises before the end. I won't tell you anything because that would ruin the joy of discovering every page. I've been thinking about this book for three weeks since I read it and would recommend it to people who don't read a lot of fiction as well as those of you who read fiction all the time.
If you're worried Yglesias doesn't sound like a serious enough writer you can be reassured by his references to Dickens, Balzac, and Zola. In that sense this is the sort of realism that can compete with television. If you enjoy heartfelt movies from the 1990s, put this on your list for Christmas or your next staycation. I enjoyed it as much as, if not more than, One Day.