It's easy to be smug about yuppies, as Alan Saperstein proves with his new novel, "How Old Was Lolita?" After all, these are superficial people who spend their lives playing games, whether it's Botticelli during dinner or the sort of competition that develops as this group of friends vie to set up the best possible arrangements for a funeral. Nothing fazes them in their self-absorbed world, even suicide.
Roger Abel loves his wife, Victoria, just as he loves his friends, Frank and Lori and Dale and Phyllis and David and Barbara and Michael and Julia. As the book opens, this inchoate "Big Chill" group is playing that paradigm yuppie game Trivial Pursuit. It takes a while to differentiate these good friends, and when they are finally described, Saperstein does not bother with writerly details. Instead, he goes right ahead and casts the movie version of his book: Roger looks like Dustin Hoffman, Victoria looks like Meryl Streep, David looks like Timothy Hutton and, well, you get the idea.
Though Roger, who narrates, keeps insisting on the bond he shares with his good friends, he has no one when he needs a confidant. With all this talk about how these people are his surrogate family, they cannot help with real family problems. Roger's older brother, Andrew, whom he was never really close to, has mysteriously appeared and is staying on his hide-a-bed. And this remnant from the '60s, this drinking, ill-mannered, aimless lout who never says a coherent word to Roger, much less plays a decent game of Trivial Pursuit, seems to be having an affair with Victoria.