There is no American writer alive who is funnier, more inquisitive, or more surprising than Julie Hecht. The Unprofessionals, her first novel, whose nameless narrator also told the stories in the author's bestselling collection, Do the Windows Open?, is a mordant triumph. It follows the friendship between the narratora photographer in her late fortiesand a young man whom she has known since his childhood and who has always shared the narrator's dismay about the way Americans live now: our discount chain stores, our incomprehensible architecture, our preoccupation with pets, our lack of manners. As the narrator takes us through the various stages of this friendship, she also tells the story of the young man's incongruous predicament on his path to heroin addiction and the absurdities of his attempted recovery. The Unprofessionals is in part a masterpiece of comic despair, in part an illumination of the customs and mores of a new and bewildering century, in part a hilarious and sad story of two outsiders who see the world with painful clarityand, as a whole, a novel of unexampled originality.