Authors: Ann Beattie
Tags: Fiction, Literary
To her latest novel, Beattie brings the same documentary accuracy and Chekhovian wit and tenderness that have made her one of the most acclaimed portraitists of contemporary American life. Marshall Lockard, a professor at the local college, is contemplating adultery, unaware that his wife is already committing it.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Successfully avoiding the one-note, affectless deadpan to which her work was in danger of succumbing, Beattie provides plenty of dramatic tension in this absorbing narrative of a man emotionally distanced from his life. Marshall Lockard, youngish professor at a small New England college, is a peevish, condescending loner; his career is at a dead end and his marriage to Sonja is passionless. When he impulsively stops his car to pick up an attractive student, he has a vague idea of starting an affair with her. But the story Cheryl tells him?that her roommate says she's been abused and raped by Jack McCallum, a colleague of Marshall's in the English department?gradually enmeshes Marshall in McCallum's very messy life. Seeing echoes of his own personality in McCallum's passive sadness, Marshall begins slowly to acknowledge the complexities of his life, including the harmful effects of his father's bullying and his mother's early death. Meanwhile, the reader has been puzzling over a series of undated letters interspersed throughout the narrative; written to a woman called Martine (whose identity, when it is finally revealed on a tombstone, brings past and present together), they are penned by an obviously cold, arrogant, manipulative man who signs only his initial. Eventually, the letters hold a clue to Marshall's emotionally crippled personality. Though this novel has a few maladroit episodes (e.g., the true identity of Cheryl's roommate is gratuitously melodramatic), Beattie's writing has a new immediacy and intensity. The enduring effects of childhood trauma, which she explored in her previous novel, Picturing Will, are here conveyed with wit, irony and compassion.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
In her latest novel since Picturing Will (LJ 1/90), Beattie again explores the anxieties of the American middle class. Using a deliberately understated narrative voice, she presents the confused world of college professor Marshall Lockheed and his wife, Sonja. As Marshall ponders whether to tell Sonja about his complicated infatuation with a student, Sonja ponders the pros and cons of revealing her brief affair with her boss. Meanwhile, repercussions from their rather unexceptional indiscretions are about to plunge both Lockheeds into some very unusual territory. In the background are Marshall's dying stepmother, a woman with secrets of her own, and a collection of mysterious letters from the past with significant links to the present. Beattie's detached prose captures characters and events photographically: precise images are put forth for the reader to ponder without authorial analysis or elaboration. At its best, this technique stimulates thought and imagination, but it will not appeal to all readers. Nevertheless, this is essential where Beattie's work is admired.
-?Starr E. Smith, Marymount Univ., Arlington, Va.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
“A novel of distinction.… Beattie’s complexities make us more alert to the layered complexities of our own lives.”
Los Angeles Times
“A master novelist of our brave new world.”
—Chicago Tribune Book World
“Beattie writes out of wisdom and maturity that are timeless.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Beattie can capture a particular kind of moonlit melancholy of the soul with a near singular sheen … a writer of seamless technique and great authenticity.… The ending of her story here is wonderful, full of sorrow, revelation, and sweet impossibility.”
is rich in detail, sympathy, and chiaroscuro.”
—The New York Times
“Enlivened by all of Beattie’s trademarks at their very best: an ear for contemporary speech as unerring as Elmore Leonard’s; an unblinking eye for the gloriously absurd details of American life in the fast lane; and, best of all, a gift for hilarious yet sympathetic satire.”
—Washington Post Book World
“Beattie’s vision of contemporary middle-class society is as penetrating as radar … truthful and compelling.”
Ann Beattie has published four previous novels and five collections of stories, among them
Chilly Scenes of Winter, Falling in Place, The Burning House, Love Always
. She lives in Maine with her husband, the painter Lincoln Perry.
The Burning House
Chilly Scenes of Winter
Falling in Place
Secrets and Surprises
What Was Mine
Where You’ll Find Me
FIRST VINTAGE CONTEMPORARIES EDITION, SEPTEMBER 1996
Copyright © 1995 by Irony & Pity, Inc
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Vintage Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and simultaneously in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto. Originally published in the United States in hardcover by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, in 1995.
The Library of Congress has cataloged the Knopf edition
Another you / Ann Beattie.
Random House Web address:
FOR ANDREW BORNSTEIN
HERE SHE WAS
, swaddled like an oversized infant in her white parka with its pointed hood pulled tight by a drawstring, turning at intervals to face oncoming traffic, extending her hand and pointing her thumb. Marshall went by so fast, and was so preoccupied—how many times do they play Marianne Faithfull singing “As Tears Go By” on the radio these days?—that he flinched as he sprayed her with dirty snow and kept going, hardly registering her presence. As the receding baby’s bunting blip came into focus in his rearview mirror, Cheryl Lanier transformed into a real person. Marshall moved his foot slowly onto the brake, his eyes flicking up to the rearview at the same instant to make sure the car behind him wasn’t going to ram his car. He touched the pedal, eased up, tapped again until the flashing lights caught the other driver’s attention. The driver of the other car, frustrated that he could no longer tailgate, swerved to pass on the right, racing the motor and sending a heavy spray of slush onto the windshield as Marshall squinted to see, pulling off onto the shoulder.
Though there had been no near accident, so much had happened in a few seconds that as Cheryl Lanier ran up to the car, he had not yet recovered enough composure to greet her in the mocking mode he generally used with the young. “Cheryl,” he said simply, as she threw open the passenger door. “Omigod,” she said. “It’s you.” Her long black scarf trailed to her knee on one side; the other end formed a small epaulet of fringe that dangled from her left shoulder. As she thumped down into the passenger seat, the scarf slid to the floor. They almost bumped heads as they leaned forward to snatch it up.
But too late: it was soaked from the puddle her boots made as she stepped into the car.
He fingered his own long maroon wool scarf from England, which had been his sister-in-law Beth’s birthday gift to him. As if it were a laurel, he removed his scarf and draped it around her neck. He winced, looking at her red cheeks that had chapped to the texture of an emery board, while her eyes brimmed with tears from the wind. “Smiling faces I can see,” Marianne Faithfull sang.
But not for me
, he sang in unison, silently, to himself. Was that the way it should be? Should he let his restless impulse coast to a stop as his car had? Should he keep the needle unwavering at 40 m.p.h., be as upstanding as the needle until he dropped her where she was going, then continue off into the darkening afternoon, the wheels tracing the familiar back roads to his house as if they had a life of their own?