A fully realized portrait of one woman’s life in all its complexity, by the National Book Award-winning author.
An ordinary life - its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion - lived by an ordinary woman: this is the subject of Someone, Alice McDermott’s extraordinary return, seven years after the publication of After This. Scattered recollections - of childhood, adolescence, motherhood, old age - come together in this transformative narrative, stitched into a vibrant whole by McDermott’s deft, lyrical voice.
Our first glimpse of Marie is as a child: a girl in glasses waiting on a Brooklyn stoop for her beloved father to come home from work. A seemingly innocuous encounter with a young woman named Pegeen sets the bittersweet tone of this remarkable novel. Pegeen describes herself as an “amadan,” a fool; indeed, soon after her chat with Marie, Pegeen tumbles down her own basement stairs. The magic of McDermott’s novel lies in how it reveals us all as fools for this or that, in one way or another. Marie’s first heartbreak and her eventual marriage; her brother’s brief stint as a Catholic priest, subsequent loss of faith, and eventual breakdown; the Second World War; her parents’ deaths; the births and lives of Marie’s children; the changing world of her Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn - McDermott sketches all of it with sympathy and insight.
Includes a bonus conversation between Alice McDermott and her editor, Jonathan Galassi.
©2013 Alice McDermott (P)2012 Macmillan Audio
Say something about yourself!
I listen to a lot of audiobooks, and "Someone" will be in my Top 15 for certain. I love language and it is apparent from the first paragraph that Ms. McDermott has carefully, lovingly selected each and ever word, the result being a miraculous description of a rather un-miraculous life.
Alice McDermott's writing reminds me of Ann Patchett, and Colin McCann--it's that ability to make magical through prose something we see in everyday life. This book would be a very satisfying read for those who enjoyed McCann's enchanting "Trans-Atlantic."
I thought Ms. Reading did a fine job with all the characters, both female and male. The mark of a great narrator is, in my mind, that she compliments the story she is reading without overshadowing. Ms. Reading did exactly that. Having said that, I encourage everyone to hit the "preview" button to listen before buying. Like music, narrators are often in the eye/ear of the beholder.
For me, Marie is the obvious choice, because this is her story. I just really like books, such as this, that show how someone who's not particularly beautiful, wealthy, brilliant, witty, or a standout in a way that might capture today's reality-TV-addicted world, can make a life of meaning, just by quietly putting one step in front of the other.
The genius of Ms. McDermott is that she has taken a rather ordinary woman, whose life is rather ordinary (heartbreaks, marriage, loss of parents--but no attempts to climb Mt. Everest, the corporate ladder, or the heights of Hollywood). Through her meticulous and lyrical words, she has brought importance to each and every moment of Marie's simple life. Most of us live these types of quiet lives--McDermott allows Marie's to shine. And through Marie, we all shine, as well.
I have enjoyed all of Alice McDermott's previous books but I need to look out for this narrator...she really ruined it for me....her droning, sing-song voice grated on my nerves and I can't really evaluate the story as I am SO irritated with that voice! I will have to buy the physical novel because I can't tolerate hearing it....such a waste.
Choosing a different narrator. Kate Reading did an abysmal job. Her voice was so robotic that it was all I could do to hold on until the end of the story.
I might give the physical book as a gift. I would not recommend the audio recording to anyone.
Her voice. Her droning. Her flatness. Her mechanical voice was just awful.
Alice McDermott is a wonderful writer and the story here lives up to her reputation, but the reader is so bad that enjoyment of the story is compromised.
Find another reader.
The story was great.
I don't know how Audible finds its readers, but ruling out those with irritating voices, tics like ending every sentence on a rising note, etc. would improve the listener's enjoyment. Maybe the authors should be reviewing the performers before the book is released to the public.
Former English major who loves to read.
Wonderfully written and my first foray into the work of Ms. McDermott. However, i have to say, I would have enjoyed the novel even more if the narrator didn't have the irritating habit of upspeaking: she ended far too many sentence on the upswing as though each statement were a question. Very distracting. The writing, however, won me over. Great first read and won't be my last of hers.
Stop the upspeak please. Definition: Affliction affecting my in today's society not just teenagers where a person makes a question out of a sentence that isn't a question (or more simply speaks "up" at the end of a sentence)
Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy this novel and decided that life is too short to persist with a book when I did not enjoy the narrator, was not endeared to the main character and found the writing style too focused on the minutiae. I found the narration too slow and sing song, with many words finishing up.
Alice McDermott is amazing. She can turn the lives of ordinary people people into compelling reading. I only wish the book had been longer.
"Someone" by Alice McDermott is a terrific story about someone who could be any of us. Nothing extraordinary in her life except that the details are fascinating somehow. How was her life changed by the young woman who died in her apartment building when she was young? How did her brother's decisions change her life? Her husband's? All of our lives are made by choices and small decisions here and there. It adds up. I was intrigued.
The one thing I didn't care for--if you're listening to the Audible version--is the sing-song voice the reader uses. I found that it made the story less interesting and finally finished by reading the book. It's not bad, just...odd and distracting.
I really didn't like anything best! There was no plot, just scenarios!
Less description and more substance
She had a sing-song lilt to her voice with inflection rising at the end of her sentences.....very annoying.
No thank you.....
Maybe I needed to READ it rather than just LISTEN to it being read because there was just NO emotion at all in the reader's voice. Sorry.
The ending wasn't a wrap, or even a final note. It was just another recounting of a detail, a small memory of our narrator, which may or may not have had any significance to the rest of the story (it's more or less up to the reader to decide). But this closing was definitely consistent with a narrative structure that simply flollowed the flow of one's past memories. One story can bleed into another completely different tale from a previous decade and come back to the present. And the present is just an opening to the future, which just Is: unknown, pending, not within our control.
In-character; measured and restrained.
I think this book was as complete as it could be. It's purview was well-defined and small; but not necessarily small-minded. The story deliberately pulls inward, as our protagonist never ventures far away from the small and ordinary and manageable. It's about one girl, one family, one brother, one friend, one neighborhood, one job, one life experienced completely within a limited psychic and geographic sphere. That McDermott describes everything in the most precise and exacting detail does not enlarge the book or the story, but pulls us more deeply into what many would typically regard as disconcertingly banal. Marie comes from an ordinary working class Irish family their very ordinary lives unfolding in an enclave of Brooklyn. There's very little questioning of their station in life (it was better than her parents' origins in another "home, Ireland". Unexplained or avoidable deaths. were sadly accepted as a matter of course. No deep thoughts, or major angst about life, death or even one's own inner confusion were even given a berth to rest. No fanfare, or drama, not even with the narrator's brother, whose life could not be fully lived. In this world and in this time, his altering the equilibrium---well, what would be the point? Leave well enough alone, his family would say. Perhaps this containment was very much in keeping with the tenor of a generation that came of age during and right after WWII, Social convention was a goal unto itself, loyalty to family, faith, and the job were all that mattered. For the 20 or so years this story spans, there's not an inkling of expansive thinking, of personal ambition or consideration of new possibilities for one's life; not even travel to another city, let alone another state. Well, the brother does go to England for WWII but that was duty- not an adventure. In that regard, there is no need for me to revisit Marie. The story was packaged tightly with all the seams taped down to perfection.
The tone of the book was so even, the pace so steady and the detail so precise, it is a set piece of fidelity to boundaries and containment. The writing was exquisite in its detail, but for me, as a reader, the absence of exuberance, bursts of humor or even tension was deadening.
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