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Before: A Novel

by

Before: A Novel Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"Spanidou's writing is appropriately hypnotic given the slenderness of the plot, and luckily she never heads too far down the woe-is-me road with Beatrice. You'll feel for her situation. But more, you'll be enthralled by the squalid bars and lonely nights that helped cause it. And that's the key: you may be disgusted or scared by the broken city Spanidou writes about, but you won't be able to resist a visit." John Burgman, Esquire (read the entire Esquire review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the author of God's Snake ("Passionate...a wonderful book" — Alice Munro), and Fear ("Remarkable, spare, powerful" — Grace Paley), a stunning novel, her first in seven years, that shines a light on what it means to be beautiful, and to be possessed — by oneself, and by others.

The setting is New York City in the 1970s — a time and place of creativity, licentiousness, rebellion — and unforeseen perils. At its center is Beatrice: twenty-five, mesmerizingly lovely and intelligent, at once conventional and different from everyone else, married to Ned, a talented but volatile painter whose obsession with her has turned to hatred.

Beatrice is desired by everyone around her: by Faye, her seductive, bawdy childhood friend; by Cyril, a lonely, charismatic Vietnam veteran; by Colin, an aspiring musician; by Simon, a cynical older man she meets at a bar; by Chris, a young heroin addict. And then there is Perkins, the oddly threatening man next door. A sliver of light from his apartment shines in on Beatrice, a light that in her darkest hours reminds her she is not alone.

Unfolding with the powerful compression of a myth, Before offers a daring portrait of three months in the life of a young woman fighting for her identity — and her survival. It is a combustible cocktail of Eros, longing, and menace, one that captures a dizzying time in America.

Review:

"The evocative third novel from Spanidou (Fear) centers uneasily on a group of late 1960s New York bohemians over the course of several tense months. Beautiful, delicate Beatrice, 25, dropped out of Barnard to marry Ned, a hard-drinking painter with coarse ways and little respect for his lovely, emotionally remote wife, who supports them as a book editor's assistant. The SoHo of their downtown loft is menacing; their motley assortment of friends move in and out of their lives depending on happenings and their attraction to Beatrice as an obscure, unattainable object of desire. The friends include Beatrice's childhood friend, Faye, a singer and rising TV actress who is as sensuous and sarcastic as Beatrice is cerebral; Colin, the deep-feeling, independently wealthy young man who lives downstairs; and Cyril, Ned's Vietnam vet brother, determined to replace feeling with making money. Next door, an ex-con returns from prison and on his doorstep appear a parade of doped-up adolescent boys waiting for their next hit. Beatrice's life unfolds sadly as the It Girl is doomed to implausible notions of love and little sense of self-worth, both tied deftly by Spanidou to Beatrice's 1950s upper-middle-class upbringing. Restrained and sparely episodic, Spanidou's novel is at once haunting and immediate. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"'The evocative third novel from Spanidou (Fear) centers uneasily on a group of late 1960s New York bohemians over the course of several tense months. Beautiful, delicate Beatrice, 25, dropped out of Barnard to marry Ned, a hard-drinking painter with coarse ways and little respect for his lovely, emotionally remote wife, who supports them as a book editor's assistant. The SoHo of their downtown loft is menacing; their motley assortment of friends move in and out of their lives depending on happenings and their attraction to Beatrice as an obscure, unattainable object of desire. The friends include Beatrice's childhood friend, Faye, a singer and rising TV actress who is as sensuous and sarcastic as Beatrice is cerebral; Colin, the deep-feeling, independently wealthy young man who lives downstairs; and Cyril, Ned's Vietnam vet brother, determined to replace feeling with making money. Next door, an ex-con returns from prison and on his doorstep appear a parade of doped-up adolescent boys waiting for their next hit. Beatrice's life unfolds sadly as the It Girl is doomed to implausible notions of love and little sense of self-worth, both tied deftly by Spanidou to Beatrice's 1950s upper-middle-class upbringing. Restrained and sparely episodic, Spanidou's novel is at once haunting and immediate. (July)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Before is about purity of feeling, will, sex and ambition all vying for dominance in a cynical and confused world. It is about becoming real in the face of imposed identity and desires. It is an absolutely unique and compelling work." Mary Gaitskill, author of Bad Behavior and Veronica

Review:

"Before is a startling work, concentrated and illuminated by emotion and intelligence in a story of one young woman's odyssey in an urban setting — a Soho art community — rendered in its ugliness and beauty in the 1970s." Paula Fox, author of Desperate Characters

Review:

"Shimmering, hypnotic....Spanidou's beautiful writing almost perfectly evokes the 1970s in New York, its fascinating characters, its low rents and withheld ambitions..." O, The Oprah Magazine

Review:

"Why you'll love Before: The realities of free love make the '80s and '90s seem pretty awesome." Marie Claire

Review:

"In Before, 1970s New York City...comes to life, wholly vibrant and shot through with pathos....Spanidou's breakneck storytelling leaves you feeling pressure-cooked. Suddenly, you’re exquisitely aware of just what it feels like when everyone notices you, but no one really sees you." Elle

Review:

"[L]ike the characters themselves, it's a tightly coiled novel. It's also bleak, almost unrelentingly so....And yet it's a lovely book, too, vivid throughout." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"There's nothing new in this cinematic fable of one circle in urban hell, but the angst is elegantly rendered...will satiate readers who seek chiseled tales of sexual adversity and survival." Booklist

Review:

"Though the story takes place over only three months, its mythic proportions make for lengthy musings." Library Journal

Synopsis:

From the author of God's Snake and Fear comes Spanidou's first novel in seven years — a book that shines a light on what it means to be beautiful, and to be possessed, by oneself, and by others.

About the Author

Irini Spanidou is the author of two previous novels. She lives in New York City.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375413810
Author:
Spanidou, Irini
Publisher:
Knopf
Subject:
General
Subject:
Young women
Subject:
New york (n.y.)
Subject:
General Fiction
Copyright:
Publication Date:
July 17, 2007
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8.66x5.90x.91 in. .89 lbs.

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Related Subjects


Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Coming of Age

Before: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Knopf Publishing Group - English 9780375413810 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The evocative third novel from Spanidou (Fear) centers uneasily on a group of late 1960s New York bohemians over the course of several tense months. Beautiful, delicate Beatrice, 25, dropped out of Barnard to marry Ned, a hard-drinking painter with coarse ways and little respect for his lovely, emotionally remote wife, who supports them as a book editor's assistant. The SoHo of their downtown loft is menacing; their motley assortment of friends move in and out of their lives depending on happenings and their attraction to Beatrice as an obscure, unattainable object of desire. The friends include Beatrice's childhood friend, Faye, a singer and rising TV actress who is as sensuous and sarcastic as Beatrice is cerebral; Colin, the deep-feeling, independently wealthy young man who lives downstairs; and Cyril, Ned's Vietnam vet brother, determined to replace feeling with making money. Next door, an ex-con returns from prison and on his doorstep appear a parade of doped-up adolescent boys waiting for their next hit. Beatrice's life unfolds sadly as the It Girl is doomed to implausible notions of love and little sense of self-worth, both tied deftly by Spanidou to Beatrice's 1950s upper-middle-class upbringing. Restrained and sparely episodic, Spanidou's novel is at once haunting and immediate. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'The evocative third novel from Spanidou (Fear) centers uneasily on a group of late 1960s New York bohemians over the course of several tense months. Beautiful, delicate Beatrice, 25, dropped out of Barnard to marry Ned, a hard-drinking painter with coarse ways and little respect for his lovely, emotionally remote wife, who supports them as a book editor's assistant. The SoHo of their downtown loft is menacing; their motley assortment of friends move in and out of their lives depending on happenings and their attraction to Beatrice as an obscure, unattainable object of desire. The friends include Beatrice's childhood friend, Faye, a singer and rising TV actress who is as sensuous and sarcastic as Beatrice is cerebral; Colin, the deep-feeling, independently wealthy young man who lives downstairs; and Cyril, Ned's Vietnam vet brother, determined to replace feeling with making money. Next door, an ex-con returns from prison and on his doorstep appear a parade of doped-up adolescent boys waiting for their next hit. Beatrice's life unfolds sadly as the It Girl is doomed to implausible notions of love and little sense of self-worth, both tied deftly by Spanidou to Beatrice's 1950s upper-middle-class upbringing. Restrained and sparely episodic, Spanidou's novel is at once haunting and immediate. (July)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Spanidou's writing is appropriately hypnotic given the slenderness of the plot, and luckily she never heads too far down the woe-is-me road with Beatrice. You'll feel for her situation. But more, you'll be enthralled by the squalid bars and lonely nights that helped cause it. And that's the key: you may be disgusted or scared by the broken city Spanidou writes about, but you won't be able to resist a visit." (read the entire Esquire review)
"Review" by , "Before is about purity of feeling, will, sex and ambition all vying for dominance in a cynical and confused world. It is about becoming real in the face of imposed identity and desires. It is an absolutely unique and compelling work."
"Review" by , "Before is a startling work, concentrated and illuminated by emotion and intelligence in a story of one young woman's odyssey in an urban setting — a Soho art community — rendered in its ugliness and beauty in the 1970s."
"Review" by , "Shimmering, hypnotic....Spanidou's beautiful writing almost perfectly evokes the 1970s in New York, its fascinating characters, its low rents and withheld ambitions..."
"Review" by , "Why you'll love Before: The realities of free love make the '80s and '90s seem pretty awesome."
"Review" by , "In Before, 1970s New York City...comes to life, wholly vibrant and shot through with pathos....Spanidou's breakneck storytelling leaves you feeling pressure-cooked. Suddenly, you’re exquisitely aware of just what it feels like when everyone notices you, but no one really sees you."
"Review" by , "[L]ike the characters themselves, it's a tightly coiled novel. It's also bleak, almost unrelentingly so....And yet it's a lovely book, too, vivid throughout."
"Review" by , "There's nothing new in this cinematic fable of one circle in urban hell, but the angst is elegantly rendered...will satiate readers who seek chiseled tales of sexual adversity and survival."
"Review" by , "Though the story takes place over only three months, its mythic proportions make for lengthy musings."
"Synopsis" by , From the author of God's Snake and Fear comes Spanidou's first novel in seven years — a book that shines a light on what it means to be beautiful, and to be possessed, by oneself, and by others.
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