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22

THURSDAY

Ann Beattie’s is not the standard local-girl-makes-good story; the measure of her success makes tags like that sound satiric. Recognized for the past two decades as one of the most significant writers of her (baby boom) generation, Beattie returns to her hometown on business, reading from her latest book, a coming-of-age novel titled My Life, Starring Dara Falcon. The progeny of a post-war G-man, Beattie’s own Chevy Chase childhood was anything but auspicious—she once likened her suburban Maryland school to “a civilized concentration camp.” After graduating in the bottom 10th of her class, she attended American University, where she flirted with the idea of becoming a journalist. She soon dismissed that idea as too bourgeois, but her distinctive fiction style has since been characterized as photojournalistic by critics. Beattie has published five collections of stories (among them Jacklighting and Where You’ll Find Me) and five novels (Another You being the penultimate), all to considerable acclaim. John Updike commended her writing for its “uncanny fidelity to the…heartbreaks behind the banal.” So maybe the Maryland suburbs weren’t such a bad training ground after all. Beattie reads at 7 p.m. at Chapters, 1512 K St. NW. FREE. (202) 347-5495. (Kelly Murphy Mason)