The Old School masters of suburban fiction, including John Cheever, John Updike, and John Irving, fixed many of their bleak tales along the Northeast corridor, imbuing the spacious homes and ratcheting sprinklers of the middle class with an undercurrent of menace and dread. There was a beguiling shrewdness to these narratives, as the protagonists steered into adultery, betrayal, and middle-aged angst, taking a perverse delight in the wreckage of their lives. In contrast, Gen X writers, recognizing this territory as their own — and knowing little else — have often replaced dread with a self-absorbed naivete, and elimi-nated shrewdness on behalf of irony and narcissism.
First-time novelist Ethan Hauser attempts to merge these versions of suburbia in “The Measures Between Us,” which follows a disparate group of people awaiting a massive rainstorm in the towns west of Boston. Most of these individuals barely know each other, but Hauser details how the impending storm and a local tragedy connect his characters, for better or worse. “Confusion . . . breeds a kind of camaraderie. Everyone is in the uncomfortable position of not knowing anything, so people surrender information right as they get it.”