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That Old Cape Magicby Richard Russo
Fans of Richard Russo's hilarious novel Straight Man will rejoice upon learning that the Pulitzer winner has once again trained his sights on academia. Most of That Old Cape Magic takes place off-campus, however, as Jack Griffin reckons with his parents' failed marriage and the rapidly deteriorating state of his own. No matter, Russo still draws plenty of laughs in this reliably sharp and introspective domestic drama.
Synopses & Reviews
Following Bridge of Sighs — a national best seller hailed by the Boston Globe as an astounding achievement and a masterpiece — Richard Russo gives us the story of a marriage, and of all the other ties that bind, from parents and in-laws to children and the promises of youth.
Jack Griffin has been tooling around for nearly a year with his father's ashes in the trunk, but his mother is very much alive and not shy about calling on his cell phone. She does so as he drives down to Cape Cod, where he and his wife, Joy, will celebrate the marriage of their daughter Laura's best friend. For Griffin this is akin to driving into the past, since he took his childhood summer vacations here, his parents' respite from the hated Midwest. And the Cape is where he and Joy honeymooned, in the course of which they drafted the Great Truro Accord, a plan for their lives together that's now thirty years old and has largely come true. He'd left screenwriting and Los Angeles behind for the sort of New England college his snobby academic parents had always aspired to in vain; they'd moved into an old house full of character; and they'd started a family. Check, check and check.
But be careful what you pray for, especially if you manage to achieve it. By the end of this perfectly lovely weekend, the past has so thoroughly swamped the present that the future suddenly hangs in the balance. And when, a year later, a far more important wedding takes place, their beloved Laura's, on the coast of Maine, Griffin's chauffeuring two urns of ashes as he contends once more with Joy and her large, unruly family, and both he and she have brought dates along. How in the world could this have happened?
That Old Cape Magic is a novel of deep introspection and every family feeling imaginable, with a middle-aged man confronting his parents and their failed marriage, his own troubled one, his daughter's new life and, finally, what it was he thought he wanted and what in fact he has. The storytelling is flawless throughout, moments of great comedy and even hilarity alternating with others of rueful understanding and heart-stopping sadness, and its ending is at once surprising, uplifting and unlike anything this Pulitzer Prize winner has ever written.
"The Griffins may not find magic on old Cape Cod, but readers will. Those who savored Russo's long, languid novels...may be surprised by this one's rapid pace, but Russo's familiar compassion for the vicissitudes of the human condition shines through." Library Journal (starred review)
"[A]n impressively expansive analysis of familial dynamics...and his many fans are sure to savor the journey." Booklist
"The author's slapstick satire of academia (Straight Man, 1997) previously seemed like an anomaly. Now it has a companion of sorts....Readable, as always with this agreeable and gifted author." Kirkus Reviews
"[Russo] has again worked his magic, rolling up his sleeves for an autumn years study disguised as a breezy summer read....The tone here may be lighter, but...Russo works this behavioral beat better than most literary heavyweights who foolishly believe that they get people." Edward Champion, The Chicago Sun-Times
In this follow-up to Bridge of Sighs, Russo delivers a novel of deep introspection and every family feeling imaginable, with a middle-aged man confronting his parents and their failed marriage, his own troubled one, his daughter's new life and, finally, what it is he thought he wanted and what in fact he has.
About the Author
Richard Russo is the author of Mohawk, The Risk Pool, Nobody's Fool, and Straight Man. He lives off the coast of Maine with his wife and two daughters.
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