Nugent’s first book, a cultural memoir, is American Nerd: The Story of My People; Good Kids continues the project described in that subtitle. Here the “people” in question are bourgeois families in New England and the bright but compromised children they send into the world: indie rock also-rans in L.A.; budding first-world anarchists in Boston; good kids whose understanding of fidelity is complicated by their parents’ dalliances and divorces.
When, in 1994, high-school sophomores Josh Paquette and Khadijah Silverglate-Dunn catch his father and her mother kissing in an organic grocery store, it sparks a strange and intense friendship that is soon suspended for 13 years by Khadijah’s mother’s retreat to Boston. When they finally reconnect, both are engaged to other people and on solid trajectories toward settled adulthood. But mutual attraction forces them to revisit their parents’ mistakes, and make potentially ruinous course corrections to avoid remaking them.
With swiftness and wit, Nugent traces the Oedipal crises of a generation of well-heeled twentysomethings trying to make their mark on the world. Michelle Huneven calls Good Kids “terrifically smart and funny—and catchy, like a hit song.” Curtis Sittenfeld says that “Nugent’s writing is alive with intelligence, authenticity, and angst.” Nugent will read from his novel at Prairie Lights Bookstore this Friday, February 1, at 7 PM.
Interview by Ben Mauk.