These [vegetables] practically [steam] themselves.

You’ll never [shop at the American Eagle] in this town again.

We’ll always have [toddlers around].

When you [can safely drive home at 11 p.m. on a Friday], the terrorists have already won.

There’s no good way to tell you [about minivans].

The best advice you’ll get about turning thirty will come from that friend of a friend who drinks until he gets far too loud and a little too touchy (in both senses of the word). But when he sidles beside you at your friend’s birthday party, you will be just tipsy enough to smile when he calls you “youngin’.” His voice is as bright as a struck bell, yet his face is prematurely leathered. This will endear him to you, and when he says he reckons you’re the next stop on this birthday train, you’ll confide that you’re nervous about hitting what the magazines call “the big 3-0,” that you’ve been tallying up all you’ve done and haven’t done, measuring yourself against all you thought you’d have accomplished by now.

The most potent ghosts in Doug Dorst’s debut novel Alive in Necropolis are the spectres of regret that haunt protagonist Mike Mercer. Mercer is that kind of pushing-thirtysomething whom we’ve all known―or been―grinding through wage-slave temp work, shuttling from periods of unintentional celibacy to codependent non-relationships, and drifting listlessly away from friends who’ve found their niches in the adult world of mortgages, 401ks, and families.