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Saul and Patsyby Charles Baxter
Synopses & Reviews
From the acclaimed author of The Feast of Love — nominated for a National Book Award — a new novel, both light-hearted and deeply moving, about the arcs and pitches of event and emotion that shape the lives of a young married couple.
In the two years since they were married, nothing has mattered so much to either Saul or Patsy as the fact that they are just that: Saul-and-Patsy. And though they've ended up in the small city of Five Oaks, Michigan, their life together is an idyll of domestic romance. At least for a while.
With the birth of their daughter, Saul is shocked to find himself feeling envious of the attention Patsy lavishes on her. But at the same time, his own attention is being drawn away from home by a different child: one of his students, a deeply troubled 16-year-old boy, has become darkly obsessed with Saul's life. And although Saul can't see it coming, the shattering outcome of the boy's obsession will lead Saul to question everything he has always assumed about himself — and about Saul-and-Patsy.
Writing with the grace and dazzling perception we have come to expect of him, Charles Baxter brilliantly illuminates the hidden reaches of both hearth and heart.
"Baxter is a master of stealth, easing us by degrees from a world shaped by love toward a creepy nihilism. His deft fusion of a love story with a post-Columbine psychodrama is a major achievement." Kirkus Reviews
"The stars of Charles Baxter's new novel, a wandering Jew and an infinitely adaptable Protestant, first appeared nearly twenty years ago, in the short story 'Saul and Patsy Are Getting Comfortable in Michigan.' Now the author has called back the couple for an encore, with marvelous results....Yet Baxter's prose?trenchant, funny, and apt to turn on a metaphysical dime?remains one of the pure pleasures of American fiction, and he deserves a wide readership for this book, whose vision of embattled heartland Judaism might just as easily have been called Oy, Wilderness!" James Marcus, The Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic review)
"[A] mesmerizing novel of delightfully plausible contradictions....There is real drama in these pages, but no literary chest-thumping....Baxter has created a book that is utterly feckful. (Grade: A)" Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly
"[A] stellar novelist....Baxter's prose is succulent, his characters magnetic, his humor incisive, his decipherment of the human psyche felicitous, and his command of the storyteller's magic absolute." Donna Seaman, Booklist (Starred Review)
"The narrative is dense with quotidian detail, precisely charted shifts of consciousness and pitch-perfect moments of emotional truth, but Baxter doesn't have full control of the novel's architecture." Publishers Weekly
"There were times during Saul and Patsy...when I thought I was reading something by Jonathan Franzen....When a book is as funny and grown-up and generous as this one often is, a lot can be forgiven it..." Eric Weinberger, The New York Times Book Review
"[E]erily beautiful....Saul and Patsy is not an eventful novel....But to [hurry through the doldrums] would rob this book of its exquisite quietude, its pitch-perfect rendition of the menace that is part of any domestic space." John Freeman, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Charles Baxter reminds us that there is no regional monopoly on virtue and understanding....Such indeed is the glory of love — and of fully realized fiction." Chris Lehmann, The Washington Post Book World
"It is rare that a novel, even a good one, manages to evoke contemporary life without being self-conscious about it. But that is what Baxter achieves here..." The New Yorker
Five Oaks, Michigan is not exactly where Saul and Patsy meant to end up. Both from the East Coast, they met in college, fell in love, and settled down to married life in the Midwest. Saul is Jewish and a compulsively inventive worrier; Patsy is gentile and cheerfully pragmatic. On Sauls initiative (and to his continual dismay) they have moved to this small town-a place so devoid of irony as to be virtually “a museum of earlier American feelings”-where he has taken a job teaching high school.
Soon this brainy and guiltily happy couple will find children have become a part of their lives, first their own baby daughter and then an unloved, unlovable boy named Gordy Himmelman. It is Gordy who will throw Saul and Patsys lives into disarray with an inscrutable act of violence. As timely as a news flash yet informed by an immemorial understanding of human character, Saul and Patsy is a genuine miracle.
About the Author
Charles Baxter lives in Minneapolis and teaches at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of seven other works of fiction, including Believers, Harmony of the World, and Through the Safety Net. The Feast of Love was a finalist for the National Book Award.
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