In the first-person narrative of the novel Loner (2016), by Teddy Wayne, David Federman does not seem like a true loner, even a sexually deprived one. An 18-year-old Harvard student, he seems conventional and straight-thinking until . . . his preoccupation with beautiful Veronica, a fellow student, is all that concerns him; and, yes, his friends appear no longer to be around. Tenuously involved with two other guys, Veronica is all but dismissive of the “beta” David while also giving him mild encouragement. David plans and schemes, sometimes repulsively.

Craving the girl, our hero never says he loves her. Veronica, for her part, objectifies David. Both are probably too young to know better (or not), albeit the loner proves capable of a serious offense—and doesn’t care about it.

Loner is like Alissa Nutting’s Tampa: a relatively short, serious novel that is not very profound but is a page-turner. And it’s intelligently written. I recommend it.