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
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.
McDermott's writing doesn’t work for ME, at least not here, not in this book! I didn't relate, and that is strange since this is a book about women, all women, what we share. Not the famous, not the outstanding but the ordinary, albeit ”Western" woman. I think it tries to say too much. It washes out; it becomes too general.
The jokes, the girl-talk, the first love, how we relate to our husbands, the birth of our children, religious contemplations. It is all here, but I didn't relate......and I don't think I am all that different from other ordinary women! There is a remove, a distance.
The storyline hops around in time. It isn’t hard to follow once you are into the book and know who is who, but this device doesn’t add to the book, so why is it used?
The lines have certainly NOT been destroyed by the audiobook's talented narrator, Kate Reading, who is of course Kathryn Ann Fleming. She died tragically in 2006. You simply cannot beat her narrations. For me at least, a good narrator cannot turn an empty book into a good one.
AUDIBLE MAKES READING POSSIBLE AND EASY FOR ME...I AM VISUALLY IMPAIRED. I WISH THEY HAD ALL THE BOOKS I WANT I WOULD SNAP THEM UP!
IF THEIR WAS A REAL PLOT.
NOTHING STOOD OUT. KIND OF MUNDANE.
NOT REALLY. IT WAS PRETTY BORING IMHO.
IF IT WAS PEPPED UP IT MITE MAKE A GOOD MOVIE. BUT IT WOULD HAVE TO BE PEPPED UP A LOT!
This is the most boring book I've ever listened to. The book is boring; the reader is boring. And the reference to a song about the white cliffs of Dover in the years right after WWI is a jarring anachronism that reveals the author's laziness.
There was nothing that sparked my interest or stirred my emotions......just flat and blah!
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