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Fireworks (Vintage Contemporaries)by Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop
Synopses & Reviews
Hollis Clayton is in trouble. His wife has decamped for the summer, leaving him to pursue his increasingly overwhelming compulsions: drinking; spying on neighbors; worrying about the fate of an abducted local girl; avoiding his editor, who is on the verge of rejecting his new collection of stories; and confronting as obliquely as possible the recent death of his young son. Meanwhile, he is spending more time with Jack Daniels and a stubbornly persistent stray dog than with anyone else, including his girlfriend Marissa, who has either abandoned him or been abandoned by him, hes not sure which. A tender and comic portrait of suburban despair, Fireworks details the events of one strange summer in which a mans troubled soul hangs in the balance. In her perceptive exploration of Holliss disintegrating life, Elizabeth Winthrop gives us an unforgettably powerful portrait of an anguished man, one who is both endearingly flawed and vividly real.
Hollis Clayton is in trouble. His wife has decamped to her sister's house for the summer, leaving him to pursue without interruption his increasingly overwhelming compulsions: drinking; spying on the neighbors; following with rising anxiety the fate of a recently abducted local girl, hauntingly portrayed on a nearby billboard; confronting, as obliquely as possible, the loss of his young son; and avoiding his editor at New York's preeminent publishing house, who is on the verge of rejecting his new collection of stories. In the meantime, he has more immediate difficulties: a stray dog with whom he is forced to share his nightly Mexican takeout; a back injury resulting from an adventure on his neighbor's trampoline; and his girlfriend, Marissa, who has either abandoned him or been abandoned by him, he's not sure which.
From the vantage point of his front porch, it seems to Hollis that the daily rhythms of his disintegrating life have begun to seem eerily inflected with meaning. Bewildered by what is either life's total arbitrariness or its suffocating overdetermination, Hollis is stuck somewhere between wonder and paralysis, with his troubled soul hanging in the balance. Before the close of this strange summer he will either slip beyond hope of recovery into a haze of lassitude and alcoholism, or find some promise, however vague, of redemption.
In an eviscerating comic portrait of suburban despair, Elizabeth Winthrop captures the mysterious seasons of a man's inner and outer life--marriage, grief, existential confusion, and finally, unforgettably, abiding love--and the human spirit's insistent and sometimes incongruous motion toward grace. A marvelous debut by a precocious newtalent.
"From the Hardcover edition."
In an eviscerating comic portrait of suburban despair, Winthrops debut novel captures the mysterious seasons of a mans inner and outer life--marriage, grief, existential confusion, and finally, love--and the human spirits insistent and sometimes incongruous motion toward grace.
About the Author
Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop was born and raised in New York City. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude from Harvard University in 2001. In 2004 she received her MFA in fiction from the University of California at Irvine, and she was the recipient of the Schaeffer Writing Fellowship for the 2004-5 academic year. She lives in Savannah, Georgia.
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