‘‘Janus’’ first appeared in the May 27, 1985, issue of the New Yorker magazine. It later appeared in the 1986 collection Where You’ll Find Me, and has often been singled out as one of Beattie’s best stories. ‘‘Janus’’ is the story of a successful, yet unhappy real estate agent named Andrea. She grows attached to a cream-colored bowl, often placing the bowl in the homes of her clients when she shows the home to potential buyers. By the end of the story, readers discover that the bowl was a gift from Andrea’s lover.
In ‘‘Janus,’’ Beattie explores the emptiness of contemporary life. She is often regarded as the spokesperson of her generation, reflecting the lives of middle- and upper-middle class men and women. Beattie is often linked with other minimalist writers such as Bobbie Ann Mason and Raymond Carver.