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Other titles in the Vintage Contemporaries series:
The Quick and the Deadby Joy Williams
Synopses & Reviews
Misanthropic Alice is a budding eco-terrorist; Corvus has dedicated herself to mourning; Annabel is desperate to pursue an ordinary American life of indulgences. Misfit and motherless, they share an American desert summer of darkly illuminating signs and portents. In locales as mirrored strange as a nursing home where the living dead are preserved, to a wildlife museum where the dead are presented as living, the girls attend to their future. A remarkable attendant cast of characters, including a stroke survivor whose soulmate is a vivisected monkey, an aging big-game hunter who finds spiritual renewal in his infatuation with an eight-year-old-the formidable Emily Bliss Pickles-and a widower whose wife continues to harangue him, populate this gloriously funny and wonderfully serious novel where the dead are forever infusing the living, and all creatures strive to participate in eternity.
"Joy Williams' latest novel tracks the bizarre tale of three girls drawn together by loss traveling into the desert. Alice is a 15-year-old who has an opinion on everything, Corvus is an orphan
whose parents died in a freak accident, Annabel is a rich, lively, somewhat shallow girl who lives with her father in a house haunted by the ghost of her mother. This unusual group is united by the fact that each of them has lost her mother. On their long journey, the three encounter a variety of eccentrics, misfits, and otherwise quirky characters, each drawn with deft brilliance by Williams. This by turns comic and horrifying tale of wounded souls traveling barren terrain is by no means an easy trip for a reader, but it is well worth the ride." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
In her long-awaited new novel, the peerless Joy Williams has produced a masterpiece of contemporary American life, in all its bizarrely comic, surreally tragic truths.
Three motherless girls–Alice, intent on saving the earth from humanity’s abuse; Corvus, who finds solace in caring for the dying; and Annabel, for whom fashion and cosmetics are armor against her fears–move through Arizona’s desert landscape and encounter its misfit inhabitants. Annabel’s father is literally haunted by the very vocal ghost of his wife. A pianist prefers dark thoughts to the sprightly songs he plays at rich men’s parties. A tycoon with a fondness for taxidermy befriends a child who reviles his passion. Achingly recognizable, profoundly imaginative, this is a novel that lingers long in the mind.
About the Author
Joy Williams lives in Arizona and Key West.
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