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You can take the boy out of the ‘burbs, but can you ever really extract his WASPish sting? Writer Rick Moody is our new Suburban Son. The 36-year-old author is making his career chronicling the disintegrating families and the secret affairs of the Connecticut middle class. He gets compared to graybeards like Cheever and Updike an awful lot, which ain’t half bad, but take a gander at Moody’s singular prose: It’s damned engorged, sometimes manic, often maddeningly cerebral. Purple America, his acclaimed third novel—the first was Garden State, the second a little tome called The Ice Storm—shows his stuff. The tale of the screwy Raitliffe family, it’s told through the actions of the stuttering, drunken thirtysomething son Hex. (What writer christens his hero Hex, we are almost instructed to ask.) In an almost uncomfortably Oedipal manner, he cares for his incapacitated mother, debilitated by a nerve disease. As his name suggests, everything Hex touches turns to poop: Watch Hex fail at connecting to other humans, see Hex muck up his job as a freelance publicist, guffaw as Hex struggles to rent a car. He’s a white-bread, cookie-cut suburban loser. And nobody captures a cat like that better than the Moody man. See him read from the recently released paperback at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 21, at Olsson’s Books & Records, 1200 F St. NW. Free. (202) 347-3686. (Gina Vivinetto)