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"A fine new novel. . . The great pleasure of reading Louis Begley [is] his exceptional literary intelligence. " The New York Times Book Review "Begley again demonstrates that he can reveal the complexities of society and personality with a clear eye and graceful style. . . Morethan meets the requirements of graceful fiction. " Time. Proud, traditional, and impeccably organized, Albert Schmidt is a button-down lawyer of the old school. But now, after years of careful management, his life is slowly unraveling. His beloved wife has recently died. He stumbles--or is he being pushed?--into early retirement. And his daughter, his only child, is planning to marry a man Schmidt cannot approve of, for reasons he can scarcely admit, even to himself. As Schmidt gropes for resolutions, he finds unexpected hope in an intense passion that comes out of the blue. Set in the Hamptons and Manhattan, infused with black humor and startling eroticism, About Schmidt is both a meditation on loneliness and on the power of romance to unlock the most impenetrable recesses of the heart. "Comical, tough, unsparing; it is as if Louis Auchincloss had exchanged the kid gloves for brass knuckles. . . Interesting and nervy. " The Washington Post Book World "A powerful story of a man's fall from grace. . . The Remains of the Day come[s] to mind. "Publishers Weekly (starred review) "Stunning. "Los Angeles Times Book Review
"[A] perfectly constructed novel.... The time is 1974, and Max, who is fleeing from the wreckage of his first marriage, is a summer-house guest on Lake Como, where he encounters the two characters who will shape his life over the next 20 years: Charlie Swan, a Harvard classmate from the 1950s turned famous architect...and Toby, a poised and polymorphous teenager who is soon to become Charlie's protege and lover." --Time
"Begley writes with a contemplative wisdom that permeates his work....[He] has captured some of the wispy melancholy of midcentury fiction, and this feat in itself is mellifluous to both ear and spirit."THE BOSTON GLOBEA man without a country or family, a Holocaust survivor, Ben long ago left the wreckage of Europe and recreated himself as a brilliant financier. He rejects the comforts of love and is shocked to discover Veronique--beautiful, unwisely married, and all that Ben suddenly knows he has always needed. In their stolen hours and weekends, their deep commitment to one another fills their lives as nothing ever has. But the question remains: Can Ben finally take what he has always denied himself...?From the author of WARTIME LIES.From the Trade Paperback edition.
"Terrifically intelligent, moving, and entertaining."-The New York Sun"With snappy dialogue [and] intelligent prose . . . Begley paints a memorable portrait of lasting friendship and of the strength required to step outside of the expectations that surround each of us."-Rocky Mountain News. At the beginning of the 1950s, three disparate young men are thrown together as roommates at Harvard College: Henry White, a Polish-Jewish refugee who survived World War II by hiding in Poland; Archibald P. Palmer III, an Army brat; and Sam Standish, ostensibly the scion of a fine New England family who has just learned that he was adopted at birth by parents he cannot respect. Each seeks to come to terms with his identity or to remake it altogether. Henry's task is especially daunting: He is determined to live as an American, free of the shackles of his hideous past. But reinvention is a bargain with the devil, and over the years each will find that it comes at a high cost, challenging one's honor and loyalty to parents, friends, and ultimately oneself."Absorbing . . . In full Henry James mode, Begley uses a lucid prose style to dispassionately eviscerate the upper classes even as he illuminates the true meaning of friendship."-Booklist"The final moral crisis of Henry's life [is] gorgeously evoked. . . . Begley's analysis of class and anti-Semitism in America is often brilliant."-The Washington Post Book World"A moving tale . . . [Begley's] technique demands attention-and richly rewards it."-The New York Observer"An elegant novel of enduring friendship."-Publishers Weekly (starred review)From the Trade Paperback edition.
From the author of Wartime Lies and About Schmidt, an irresistibly entertaining novel about a man struggling to understand his friends' seemingly charmed marriage, which may have been doomed from the start. In the unforgiving class system of the 1950s, Lucy de Bourgh, daughter of one of Rhode Island's first families and beneficiary of an ample trust fund, was married to Thomas Snow, son of a Newport garage owner and his bookkeeper wife. It hardly mattered that Thomas was a graduate of Harvard Business School, or that he went to work for a great Wall Street firm and succeeded beyond expectations. In Lucy's eyes, he remained irremediably a "townie." Decades later, a chance meeting brings Lucy together with Philip, our narrator. They'd known each other earlier, and he remembers her as a ravishing, funny, ready-for-anything hellion with a well-earned reputation for generosity with sexual favors. He also remembers Thomas, killed in a freak accident years after his and Lucy's divorce, and is shocked to hear Lucy refer to Thomas insistently as "that monster." How is he to reconcile that unexpected and overflowing reservoir of bitterness and resentments with his own memories? Almost against his will, Philip sets out on a quest that soon becomes an obsession to discover who exactly these friends were whom he had understood so incompletely, and what happened in their marriage. Through Philip's patient probing, a brilliant portrait emerges of Begley's heroine: infinitely complex, irresistible as well as insufferable, capable of extremes of arrogance and submission, and driven by sexual appetites she cannot control. Lucy de Bourgh is without doubt one of Begley's strongest and most outrageous creations.
Thomas Mistler has always thought himself "a happy man, as the world goes. " A scion of old money, he made his own fortune in advertising and is now poised to sell the company he founded for a fabulous price. But when a medical examination reveals the presence in his liver of a fatal intruder, "preposterously, unmistakably, he begins to rejoice," with a feeling of having been set free. But free from what? He will seek the answer surreptitiously, without revealing his illness to his family, during a last reprieve, a moment of grace in "the one place on earth where nothing irritates him. " But amidst the surreal beauties of Venice, he finds bitterness and chaos as he allows himself to drift for the first time. His halfhearted efforts to seize the day and its present pleasures--first with a striving young photographer and later with a love of his youth who never loved him--cannot compete with his need to commune with the living and the dead that crowd his life: his father and uncle, pillars of the Establishment, sources of the "genetic puritanism" he has never tried to resist; his son, Sam, whose love he has only barely salvaged; his wife, once perfectly "beautiful and suitable," now humiliated by him and half-scorned. And the one woman who embodies everything he might have wished for, a woman he "never had and never lost. " Deeply poignant yet mordantly funny,Mistler's Exitbrilliantly discloses the pleasures and miseries of having it all. A masterly revelation of the complexities of the heart.
Recently widowed, Albert Schmidt has triumphantly rediscovered domestic bliss in the Hamptons with Carrie, the Puerto Rican waitress who is younger than his daughter. Schmidt is content with keeping his own hours and steering his own course, even as he becomes entertained--and increasingly ensnared-- by the odd billionaire Michael Mansour. Among Schmidt's other heartbreaks and delights is the scandal engulfing his detested son-in-law. Where will it all lead? Is Mansour a true friend or just a big cat playing with a WASP mouse? Can May and December remain on the same calendar as the sun sets? Through it all, one thing is clear: Schmidt has found a new life far beyond the deck chair.With the elegance and mordant wit readers have come to expect of him, Louis Begley has created a magnificent story of how virtue may be rewarded.From the Trade Paperback edition.
When we last saw Albert Schmidt Esq. ("Schmidtie" to all near and dear), he had been expelled from paradise: his love Carrie, the Puerto Rican waitress forty years his junior, had taken up with a blond giant nearer her age and possibly the father of her baby--assuming it isn't Schmidt. Meanwhile, his only confirmed child, Charlotte, had proposed a truce in their perennially strained relations, which Schmidt accepted, despite its obliging him to resume dealings with her repulsive husband and her mother-in-law-cum-psychiatrist, whose life's work has been turning Charlotte decisively against Schmidt. The curtain rises on Schmidt Steps Back some thirteen years later: New Year's Eve 2008, the dawn of the age of Obama. Schmidt's affection for the young president-elect is boundless, and as he imagines a better day for his country, he dares to hope there's one for him too. It so happens Schmidtie is readying his Hamptons house for the visit of a lady from Paris: the irresistible Alice Verplanck, widow of his former law partner and surely a more appropriate prospect for a man now seventy-eight. But there's a history, and it's complicated. In fact, Schmidt hasn't seen Alice since the summer of 1995, when he behaved like a brute upon discovering a betrayal of sorts and pronounced her unworthy of his unstinting love and commitment. Alice is finally ready to forgive him, but she still doubts that Schmidtie can ever be content. She demands that he think long and hard about their past, and while he's at it Schmidtie finds himself also reviewing the reversals and tragedies that have brought him to an unimagined isolation and loneliness. With no family he can claim but Carrie, now married and expecting a second child, and only two real friends left--his college roommate Gil Blackman and the irrepressible billionaire Mike Mansour--Schmidt sees in Alice's impending visit his last chance, before the sun sets on the Hamptons, for a life that is more than merely staying alive. At once darkly funny and deeply poignant, Schmidt Steps Back is the most emotionally nuanced installment of the drama that began with the acclaimed About Schmidt. Here is Louis Begley's finest novel yet.
"John O'Hara's fiction," wrote Lionel Trilling, "is preeminent for its social verisimilitude." Made famous by his bestselling novels, including BUtterfield 8 and Appointment in Samarra, O'Hara (1905-1970) also wrote some of the finest short fiction of the twentieth century.First published by the Modern Library in 1956, Selected Short Stories of John O'Hara displays the author's skills as a keen social observer, a refreshingly frank storyteller, and a writer with a brilliant ear for dialogue. "The stories in this volume," writes Louis Begley in his new Introduction, "show the wide range of [O'Hara's] interests and an ability to treat with a virtuoso's ease characters and situations from any place on America's geographic and social spectrum."From the Trade Paperback edition.
A mesmerizing novel of deception and betrayal from the acclaimed author of Wartime Lies and About Schmidt.John North, a prize-winning American writer, is suddenly beset by dark suspicions about the real value of his work. Over endless hours and bottles of whiskey consumed in a mysterious café called L'Entre Deux Mondes, he recounts, in counterpoint to his doubts, the one story he has never told before, perhaps the only important one he will ever tell. North's chosen interlocutor-who could be his doppelgänger-is transfixed by the revelations and becomes the narrator of North's tale. North has always been faithful to his wife, Lydia, but when one of his novels achieves a special success, he allows himself a dalliance with Léa, a starstruck young journalist. Coolly planning to make sure that his life with Lydia will not be disturbed, North is taken off guard when Léa becomes obsessed with him and he with her elaborate erotic games. As the hypnotic and serpentine confession unfurls, we gradually discover the extraordinary lengths to which North has gone to indulge a powerful desire for self-destruction. Shipwreck is a daring parable of the contradictory impulses that can rend a single soul-narcissism and self-loathing, refinement and lust.From the Hardcover edition.
Poland, 1939. The comfortable, secure world of assimilated Jews is blown away by the invasion of the Third Reich. Maciek's father disappears into the war's vortex, leaving the orphaned child with his acerbic and beautiful Aunt Tania. It is her cool inventiveness, in their dramatic flight through a landscape of oppression, that will ensure their fragile survival.
In December 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a brilliant French artillery officer and a Jew of Alsatian descent, was court-martialed for selling secrets to the German military attaché in Paris based on perjured testimony and trumped-up evidence. The sentence was military degradation and life imprisonment on Devil's Island, a hellhole off the coast of French Guiana. Five years later, the case was overturned, and eventually Dreyfus was completely exonerated. Meanwhile, the Dreyfus Affair tore France apart, pitting Dreyfusards--committed to restoring freedom and honor to an innocent man convicted of a crime committed by another--against nationalists, anti-Semites, and militarists who preferred having an innocent man rot to exposing the crimes committed by ministers of war and the army's top brass in order to secure Dreyfus's conviction. Was the Dreyfus Affair merely another instance of the rise in France of a virulent form of anti-Semitism? InWhy the Dreyfus Affair Matters, the acclaimed novelist draws upon his legal expertise to create a riveting account of the famously complex case, and to remind us of the interest each one of us has in the faithful execution of laws as the safeguard of our liberties and honor.
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