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IN HER LUMINOUS AND LONG-AWAITED NEW NOVEL, best-selling author Elizabeth Strout welcomes readers back to the archetypal, lovely landscape of northern New England, where the events of her first novel, Amy and Isabelle, unfolded. In the late 1950s, in the small town of West Annett, Maine, a minister struggles to regain his calling, his family, and his happiness in the wake of profound loss. At the same time, the community he has served so charismatically must come to terms with its own strengths and failings-faith and hypocrisy, loyalty and abandonment-when a dark secret is revealed. Tyler Caskey has come to love West Annett, `just up the road" from where he was born. The short, brilliant summers and the sharp, piercing winters fill him with awe-as does his congregation, full of good people who seek his guidance and listen earnestly as he preaches. But after suffering a terrible loss, Tyler finds it hard to return to himself as he once was. He hasn't had The Feeling that God is all around him, in the beauty of the world-for quite some time. He struggles to find the right words in his sermons and in his conversations with those facing crises of their own, and to bring his five-year-old daughter, Katherine, out of the silence she has observed in the wake of the family's tragedy. A congregation that had once been patient and kind during Tyler's grief now questions his leadership and propriety. In the kitchens, classrooms, offices, and stores of the village, anger and gossip have started to swirl. And in Tyler's darkest hour, a startling discovery will test his congregation's humanity-and his own will to endure the kinds of trials that sooner or later test us all.
National BestsellerIn her stunning first novel, Amy and Isabelle, Elizabeth Strout evokes a teenager's alienation from her distant mother--and a parent's rage at the discovery of her daughter's sexual secrets. In most ways, Isabelle and Amy are like any mother and her 16-year-old daughter, a fierce mix of love and loathing exchanged in their every glance. And eating, sleeping, and working side by side in the gossip-ridden mill town of Shirley Falls doesn't help matters. But when Amy is discovered behind the steamed-up windows of a car with her math teacher, the vast and icy distance between mother and daughter becomes unbridgeable.As news of the scandal reaches every ear, it is Isabelle who suffers from the harsh judgment of Shirley Falls, intensifying her shame about her own secret past. And as Amy seeks comfort elsewhere, she discovers the fragility of human happiness through other dramas, from the horror of a missing child to the trials of Fat Bev, the community peacemaker. Witty and often profound, Amy and Isabelle confirms Elizabeth Strout as a powerful new talent.From the Trade Paperback edition.
Isabelle Goodrow has been living in self-imposed exile with her daughter Amy for 15 years. Shamed by her past and her affair with Amy's father she has submerged herself in the routine of her dead-end job and her unrequited love for her boss. But when Amy, frustrated by her quiet and unemotional mother, embarks on an illicit affair with her maths teacher, the disgrace intensifies the shame Isabelle feels about her own past.Throughout one long, sweltering summer as the events of the small town ebb and flow around them Amy and Isabelle exist in silent conflict until a final act leads ultimately to the understanding they both crave.
"As our vision becomes more global, our storytelling is stretching in many ways. Stories increasingly change point of view, switch location, and sometimes pack as much material as a short novel might," writes guest editor Elizabeth Strout. "It's the variety of voices that most indicates the increasing confluence of cultures involved in making us who we are." The Best American Short Stories 2013 presents an impressive diversity of writers who dexterously lead us into their corners of the world.In "Miss Lora," Junot Díaz masterfully puts us in the mind of a teenage boy who throws aside his better sense and pursues an intimate affair with a high school teacher. Sheila Kohler tackles innocence and abuse as a child wanders away from her mother, in thrall to a stranger she believes is the "Magic Man." Kirstin Valdez Quade's "Nemecia" depicts the after-effects of a secret, violent family trauma. Joan Wickersham's "The Tunnel" is a tragic love story about a mother's declining health and her daughter's helplessness as she struggles to balance her responsibility to her mother and her own desires. New author Callan Wink's "Breatharians" unsettles the reader as a farm boy shoulders a grim chore in the wake of his parents' estrangement."Elizabeth Strout was a wonderful reader, an author who knows well that the sound of one's writing is just as important as and indivisible from the content," writes series editor Heidi Pitlor. "Here are twenty compellingly told, powerfully felt stories about urgent matters with profound consequences."
Elizabeth Strout "animates the ordinary with an astonishing force," wrote The New Yorker on the publication of her Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge. The San Francisco Chronicle praised Strout's "magnificent gift for humanizing characters." Now the acclaimed author returns with a stunning novel as powerful and moving as any work in contemporary literature. Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan--the Burgess sibling who stayed behind--urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever. With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout's newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art. Praise for Elizabeth Strout's Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge "Perceptive, deeply empathetic . . . Olive is the axis around which these thirteen complex, relentlessly human narratives spin themselves into Elizabeth Strout's unforgettable novel in stories."--O: The Oprah Magazine "Fiction lovers, remember this name: Olive Kitteridge. . . . You'll never forget her. . . . [Strout] constructs her stories with rich irony and moments of genuine surprise and intense emotion. . . . Glorious, powerful stuff."--USA Today "Funny, wicked and remorseful, Mrs. Kitteridge is a compelling life force, a red-blooded original. When she's not onstage, we look forward to her return. The book is a page-turner because of her."--San Francisco Chronicle "Deeply human . . . Though loneliness and loss haunt these pages, Strout also supplies gentle humor and a nourishing dose of hope."--Booklist (starred review) "Olive Kitteridge still lingers in memory like a treasured photograph."--Seattle Post-Intelligencer NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post Book World * USA Today * San Francisco Chronicle * Chicago Tribune * Seattle Post-Intelligencer * People * Entertainment Weekly * The Christian Science Monitor * The Plain Dealer * The Atlantic * Rocky Mountain News * Library Journal
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERElizabeth Strout "animates the ordinary with an astonishing force," wrote The New Yorker on the publication of her Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge. The San Francisco Chronicle praised Strout's "magnificent gift for humanizing characters." Now the acclaimed author returns with a stunning novel as powerful and moving as any work in contemporary literature. Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan--the Burgess sibling who stayed behind--urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever. With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout's newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art.Praise for The Burgess Boys"Elizabeth Strout's first two books, Abide with Me and Amy and Isabelle, were highly thought of, and her third, Olive Kitteridge, won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. But The Burgess Boys, her most recent novel, is her best yet."--The Boston Globe "No one should be surprised by the poignancy and emotional vigor of Elizabeth Strout's new novel. But the broad social and political range of The Burgess Boys shows just how impressively this extraordinary writer continues to develop."--The Washington Post "Strout's greatest gift as a writer, outside a diamond-sharp precision that packs 320 fast-paced pages full of insight, is her ability to let the reader in on all the rancor of her characters without making any of them truly detestable. . . . Strout creates a portrait of an American community in turmoil that's as ambitious as Philip Roth's American Pastoral but more intimate in tone."--Time "What truly makes Strout exceptional--and her latest supple and penetrating novel so profoundly affecting--is the perfect balance she achieves between the tides of story and depths of feeling. . . . Every element in Strout's graceful, many-faceted novel is keenly observed, lustrously imagined and trenchantly interpreted."--Chicago Tribune "Strout deftly exposes the tensions that fester among families. But she also takes a broader view, probing cultural divides. . . . Illustrating the power of roots, Strout assures us we can go home again--though we may not want to."--O: The Oprah MagazineFrom the Hardcover edition.
This edition presents Wharton's two most controversial stories, which she considered inseperable, in one volume for the first time. Set in frigid New England, both deal with sexual awakening and appetite and their devastating consequences. This text includes newly commissioned notes.From the Trade Paperback edition.
In a voice more powerful and compassionate than ever before,New York Timesbestselling author Elizabeth Strout binds together thirteen rich, luminous narratives into a book with the heft of a novel, through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge. At the edge of the continent, Crosby, Maine, may seem like nowhere, but seen through this brilliant writer's eyes, it's in essence the whole world, and the lives that are lived there are filled with all of the grand human drama-desire, despair, jealousy, hope, and love. At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance: a former student who has lost the will to live: Olive's own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse. As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life-sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridgeoffers profound insights into the human condition-its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.
A selection of short stories from a twentieth-century "American master" (Dan Cryer, Newsday). A contemporary of Ann Beattie and Tobias Wolff, Frederick Busch was a master craftsman of the form; his subjects were single-event moments in so-called ordinary life. The stories in this volume, selected by Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout, are tales of families trying to heal their wounds, save their marriages, and rescue their children. In "Ralph the Duck," a security guard struggles to hang on to his marriage. In "Name the Name," a traveling teacher attends to students outside the school, including his own son, locked in a country jail. In Busch's work, we are reminded that we have no idea what goes on behind closed doors or in the mind of another. In the words of Raymond Carver, "With astonishing felicity of detail, Busch presents us with a world where real things are at stake--and sometimes, as in the real world, everything is risked." From his first volume, Hardwater Country (1974), to his most recent, Rescue Missions (2006), this volume selects thirty stories from an "American master" (Dan Cryer, Newsday), showcasing a body of work that is sure to shape American fiction for generations to come.
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