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Cambridge

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Cambridge Cover

ISBN13: 9780385350259
ISBN10: 0385350252
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

“It was probably because I was so often taken away from Cambridge when I was young that I loved it as much as I did . . .”

So begins this novel-from-life by the best-selling author of Girl, Interrupted, an exploration of memory and nostalgia set in the 1950s among the academics and artists of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

London, Florence, Athens: Susanna, the precocious narrator of Cambridge, would rather be home than in any of these places. Uprooted from the streets around Harvard Square, she feels lost and excluded in all the locations to which her father’s career takes the family. She comes home with relief—but soon enough wonders if outsiderness may be her permanent condition.

Written with a sharp eye for the pretensions—and charms—of the intellectual classes, Cambridge captures the mores of an era now past, the ordinary lives of extraordinary people in a singular part of America, and the delights, fears, and longings of childhood.

Review:

"Susanna, a 'cranky and difficult' young girl with complicated parental relations, recalls her formative years, traveling from English shores to Grecian temples, in this fictional memoir, which, as the title implies, focuses on the period she and her academic parents lived in Cambridge, Mass. Despite the somewhat predictable nature of Susanna's feelings ('They'd be sorry when I froze to death two blocks away, a pathetic little creature with only my bicycle for a friend') and the lengthy digressions on topics like piano lessons, this raw, biting autobiographical novel from the author of Girl, Interrupted frequently lights up to the point of incandescence with subtle descriptions and astute, witty anecdotes. The depiction of the courtship between Susanna's piano teacher and her Swedish nanny, Frederika, in which the narrator's mother and a few other key characters play strong supporting roles, is a literary tour-de-force, neatly displaying Kaysen's unique talent for creating an engaging ensemble cast that comes uniquely alive under adolescent eyes: 'Mascara, a swipe of red lipstick, and a dab of rouge could transform Frederika into a monster in two minutes. It was terrifying.' Susanna may not be the most likeable young girl, and she certainly spends a good deal of time wallowing in self-pity ('I could keep growing and thinking and reading in secret, in my dark, sorry-for-myself basement of failure and neglect, like a little rat'), but for Kaysen and her legion of fans, the focus on adolescence is a theme that works. And why not? Sometimes, parental neglect or some other sad reality is just a fact of life, and the effects are, unfortunately, affectingly real." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

Susanna Kaysen has written the novels Asa, As I Knew Him and Far Afield and the memoirs Girl, Interrupted and The Camera My Mother Gave Me. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

The Lost Entwife, March 30, 2014 (view all comments by The Lost Entwife)
I had high hopes for Cambridge by Susanna Kaysen. I should have paid closer attention, however, to the summary because I usually read them in advance, just to be sure, but I didn't in this case because I was too enamored by the beautiful cover. So, instead, I read it just before cracking the book and it put a bad taste in my mouth.

You see, I don't like feeling as if the author has put herself into a fictionalized story, no matter how loosely based it is. I've never liked that, with any author I've read that has attempted it. I've always felt that if a story needed to be told that closely resembled the life of the person telling the story, then make a creative non-fiction with it. Don't try to market it as fiction. Why do I feel that way? Because ultimately the title character, Susanna, in this book came off as self-important, a bit whiny, and really.. she was all over the place.

Over and over I kept thinking about how privileged she was and how she showed so little gratitude for the things she had that she took for granted. Sure, I can understand a feeling of unhomeliness, the idea of being caught between places and not sure where you belong, but it just seemed a bit over the top in this story. Susanna traveled all over the world throughout this story and the result? She feels like an outsider in the place she considers to be her "home." I just had a really hard time buying it - especially considering the age at which it all began.

Another reason I had a hard time with this story, why it was such a hard sell for me, is that I am surrounded by military kids here in Hawai'i. I see them come and go and come again (when orders are cancelled or family life resolves itself) and you don't see books written by those children in the guise of fiction, talking about feeling like an outsider in their home port. This is something that happens to so many children in the world - and those are the ones who are fortunate enough to have parents with jobs and a life that involves seeing the world.

So, as you can gather, Cambridge just didn't work for me. I was bored and annoyed with the main character and really didn't give a flip by the end of the book about what she felt. Maybe if the book had gone a different way, approached as a coming-of-age story influenced by the different cultures she experienced, it would have worked better. Sure, that may not have happened in the life of the author, but ... then... this is a fictional story, right?
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780385350259
Author:
Kaysen, Susanna
Publisher:
Alfred A. Knopf
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Fiction
Publication Date:
20140331
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
272
Dimensions:
8.53 x 5.93 x 1.16 in 0.96 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Biographical
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life

Cambridge Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$17.95 In Stock
Product details 272 pages Alfred A. Knopf - English 9780385350259 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Susanna, a 'cranky and difficult' young girl with complicated parental relations, recalls her formative years, traveling from English shores to Grecian temples, in this fictional memoir, which, as the title implies, focuses on the period she and her academic parents lived in Cambridge, Mass. Despite the somewhat predictable nature of Susanna's feelings ('They'd be sorry when I froze to death two blocks away, a pathetic little creature with only my bicycle for a friend') and the lengthy digressions on topics like piano lessons, this raw, biting autobiographical novel from the author of Girl, Interrupted frequently lights up to the point of incandescence with subtle descriptions and astute, witty anecdotes. The depiction of the courtship between Susanna's piano teacher and her Swedish nanny, Frederika, in which the narrator's mother and a few other key characters play strong supporting roles, is a literary tour-de-force, neatly displaying Kaysen's unique talent for creating an engaging ensemble cast that comes uniquely alive under adolescent eyes: 'Mascara, a swipe of red lipstick, and a dab of rouge could transform Frederika into a monster in two minutes. It was terrifying.' Susanna may not be the most likeable young girl, and she certainly spends a good deal of time wallowing in self-pity ('I could keep growing and thinking and reading in secret, in my dark, sorry-for-myself basement of failure and neglect, like a little rat'), but for Kaysen and her legion of fans, the focus on adolescence is a theme that works. And why not? Sometimes, parental neglect or some other sad reality is just a fact of life, and the effects are, unfortunately, affectingly real." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by , Susanna Kaysen has written the novels Asa, As I Knew Him and Far Afield and the memoirs Girl, Interrupted and The Camera My Mother Gave Me. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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