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The Feast of Loveby Charles Baxter
If you have ever loved, buy this book! How's that for a strong recommendation? Charles Baxter is, in my opinion, one of the most under-appreciated contemporary American authors on the scene. He is remarkably talented. This novel, set in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is comprised of a collection of first person narratives. We hear the voices of Bradley, Chloé, Harry, and Diana, with a few others sprinkled in. You know the saying, "everybody has a story to tell." Baxter tells their stories, stories of love and loss and longing, through exquisite observations that capture profound, visceral human emotion and everyday sentiment. He conveys it in prose that is at once authentic and poetic. Each of the characters approaches life and love differently, and by the end of the book, we care about them all. Baxter gently nudges our guard down and allows us to feel without feeling manipulated. Such is the compassion good writing can render.
Synopses & Reviews
In a re-imagined Midsummer Night's Dream, men and women speak of and desire their ideal mates; parents seek out their lost children; adult children try to come to terms with their own parents and, in some cases, find new ones. In vignettes both comic and sexy, the owner of a coffee shop recalls the day his first wife seemed to achieve a moment of simple perfection, while she remembers the women's softball game during which she was stricken by the beauty of the shortstop. A young couple spends hours at the coffee shop fueling the idea of their fierce love. A professor of philosophy, stopping by for a cup of coffee, makes a valiant attempt to explain what he knows to be the inexplicable workings of the human heart.
"Extraordinary....The Feast of Love is as precise, as empathetic, as luminous as any of Baxter's past work. It is also rich, juicy, laugh-out-loud funny and completely engrossing....As loose and supple as life itself." The New York Times Book Review
"I had scarcely read twenty pages of Charles Baxter's superb new novel — a near perfect book, as deep as it is broad in its humaneness, comedy and wisdom — when I began to worry I couldn't do it justice in a review....If there is any justice, this new novel will win him the wider fame and readership he deserves." Washington Post Book World
"[A] buoyant, eloquent and touching narrative....Some magical things seem to happen...but the true magic in this luminous book is the seemingly effortless ebb and flow of the author's clear-sighted yet deeply poetic vision." Publishers Weekly
"[E]xtremely likable....[T]he Joycean monologue (spoken by Chloé) and graceful acknowledgement of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, with which Baxter ends this rueful tale of romantic folly, are the perfect touches." Kirkus Reviews
"The best book I've read this year...A beautiful, sly, bawdly and wondrous conversation on love, on mistaken pairings and the happiness when they are set aright." Detroit Free Press
In vignettes both comic and sexy, men and women speak of and desire the ideal mates who may be hiding in the unmapped sphere of possibilities in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
About the Author
Charles Baxter is the author of the novels The Feast of Love (nominated for the National Book Award), The Soul Thief, Saul and Patsy, Shadow Play, and First Light, and the collections Believers, A Relative Stranger, Through the Safety Net, and Harmony of the World. He lives in Minneapolis and teaches at the University of Minnesota and in the M.F.A. Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
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