All those geniuses of psychological investigation: Henry James, Virginia Woolf, Graham Greene. Not that I want to imitate them, nor could I, but I’m drawn to their willingness to go beneath the surface, plumb motivations, pry into secrets, reveal obsessions, and tell the truth in the face of sentimentality. Contemporary idols include Alice McDermott, Jane Smiley, Anne LaMott, Ian McEwan, Michael Cunningham, and Jeffrey Eugenides. They all explore the complexities of family relationships and find ways to infuse commonplace events with emotional power. They also expose human weakness and hypocrisy while finding the comic in our brief existence.