Author: Colson Whitehead
Released: 2009

Colson Whitehead’s novel Sag Harbor isn’t really a novel; it’s a short story collection masquerading as one, the sort of thing a publisher would scoop up from a first-time author and package as “a novel in short stories” so that it would have a better chance of making a dent on the best-seller list.

That said, Whitehead isn’t a first-timer, and his 2009 collection, which follows the exploits of two brothers vacationing on Sag Harbor in 1985 with their parents and friends, is well crafted. The language, as you would expect, crackles; the subject matter is handled with practically no sentiment, making it something like a good Tom Perotta collection. But it’s still a good Tom Perotta collection, and in the shadow of brain-quaking work like The Intuitionist, Whitehead’s debut, that’s not enough. —Ross Scarano