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Off Keck Road: A Novella (Vintage Contemporaries)by Mona Simpson
Synopses & Reviews
In this flawless novella, Mona Simpson turns her powers of observation toward characters who, unlike Ann and Adele August in her bestselling Anywhere but Here, choose to stay rather than go.
As a high school student in Green Bay, Bea Maxwell raised money for good causes; later, she became a successful real estate agent and an accomplished knitter. The one thing missing from her life is a romantic relationship. She soon settles comfortably into the role of stylish spinster and do-gooder. Woven into Bea's story are stories of other lifelong residents of Green Bay and the changes time brings to a town and its residents. This pure and simple work once again proves Mona Simpson one of the defining writers of her generation.
"Off Keck Road should not be read in public places, against the certainty of tears....Continually moving in a wry, Chekhovian way." The Atlantic Monthly
"Showcases the gifts of emotional sympathy and psychological observation that Ms. Simpson used to such enormous effect in Anywhere But Here. In fewer than 200 pages it gives us the shape and texture of two entire lives." The New York Times
"Simpson casts her net lightly over the reader in her fourth, uncharacteristically slim work of fiction, a novella, attempting to engage with a quiet plot about emotionally passive protagonists and the risk of staying disconnected....Simpson's signature fine writing renders subtle quirks of character gently and realistically, and she again finds fresh ways of capturing the familiar." Publishers Weekly
"As Simpson weaves together [her characters'] meshed stories...she pauses often to contemplate the beauty of the land as its disappears beneath the hard edges of subdivisions and malls, an internment emblematic of how love is buried deep in the hearts of her modest but strong characters, figures profound in their rootedness and dignity." Booklist
"Nothing momentous happens here, but events crowd through Bea's life, drawing in other townsfolk, and the whole story is beautifully rendered. Too low-key for some, but many readers will find this a joy." Library Journal
"It's not easy to write a novel in which the central tragedy is that nothing happens, but the author uses the cumulative power of small details to convince us that Bea's stalled life is a life worth knowing." The New Yorker
"Simpson is a powerful writer who refuses to indulge in literary or analytic excess....At its best, Simpson's economy of words allows her to limn characters with just a few clean brush strokes." Time Out New York
About the Author
Mona Simpson is the recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award, a Guggenheim grant, and the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. Since 1988 she has taught at Bard College, where she now holds the Sadie Samuelson Levy Chair of Languages and Literature. She recently received a grant from the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Foundation. She lives in Santa Monica, California.
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