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    Q&A | July 20, 2015

    Jesse Ball: IMG Powell’s Q&A: Jesse Ball

    Describe your latest book. I woke up one day from a sort of daydream with an idea for a book's structure, and for the thread of that book, one... Continue »
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      A Cure for Suicide

      Jesse Ball 9781101870129

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Landline Cover

ISBN13: 9781250049377
ISBN10: 1250049377
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Georgie pulled into the driveway, swerving to miss a bike.

Neal never made Alice put it away.

Apparently bicycles never got stolen back in Nebraska—and people never tried to break in to your house. Neal didnt even lock the front door most nights until after Georgie came home, though shed told him that was like putting a sign in the yard that said PLEASE ROB US AT GUNPOINT. “No,” hed said. “That would be different, I think.”

She hauled the bike up onto the porch and opened the (unlocked) door.

The lights were off in the living room, but the TV was still on. Alice had fallen asleep on the couch watching Pink Panther cartoons. Georgie went to turn it off and stumbled over a bowl of milk sitting on the floor. There was a stack of laundry folded on the coffee table—she grabbed whatever was on the top to wipe it up.

When Neal stepped into the archway between the living room and the dining room, Georgie was crouched on the floor, sopping up milk with a pair of her own underwear.

“Sorry,” he said. “Alice wanted to put milk out for Noomi.”

“Its okay, I wasnt paying attention.” Georgie stood up, wadding the wet underwear in her fist. She nodded at Alice. “Is she feeling okay?”

Neal reached out and took the underwear, then picked up the bowl. “Shes fine. I told her she could wait up for you. It was this whole negotiation over eating her kale and not using the word ‘literally anymore because its literally driving me crazy.” He looked back at Georgie on his way to the kitchen. “You hungry?”

“Yeah,” she said, following him.

Neal was in a good mood tonight. Usually when Georgie got home this late … Well, usually when Georgie got home this late, he wasnt.

She sat at the breakfast bar, clearing a space for her elbows among the bills and library books and second-grade worksheets.

Neal walked to the stove and turned on a burner. He was wearing pajama pants and a white T-shirt, and he looked like hed just gotten a haircut—probably for their trip. If Georgie touched the back of his head now, itd feel like velvet one way and needles the other.

“I wasnt sure what you wanted to pack,” he said. “But I washed everything in your hamper. Dont forget thats its cold there—you always forget that its cold.”

She always ended up stealing Neals sweaters.

He was in such a good mood tonight.…

He smiled as he made up her plate. Stir-fry. Salmon. Kale. Other green things. He crushed a handful of cashews in his fist and sprinkled them on top, then set the plate in front of her.

When Neal smiled, he had dimples like parentheses—stubbly parentheses. Georgie wanted to pull him over the breakfast bar and nose at his cheeks. (That was her standard response to Neal smiling.) (Though Neal probably wouldnt know that.)

“I think I washed all your jeans…,” he said, pouring her a glass of wine.

Georgie took a deep breath. She just had to get this over with. “I got good news today.”

He leaned back against the counter and raised an eyebrow. “Yeah?”

“Yeah. So … Maher Jafari wants our show.”

“Whats a Maher Jafari?”

“Hes the network guy weve been talking to. The one who green-lit The Lobby and that new reality show about tobacco farmers.”

“Right.” Neal nodded. “The network guy. I thought he was giving you the cold shoulder.”

“We thought he was giving us the cold shoulder,” Georgie said. “Apparently he just has cold shoulders.”

“Huh. Wow. That is good news. So—” He cocked his head to the side. “—why dont you seem happy?”

“Im thrilled,” Georgie said. Shrilly. God. She was probably sweating. “He wants a pilot, scripts. Weve got a big meeting to talk casting.…”

“Thats great,” Neal said, waiting. He knew she was burying the lead.

Georgie closed her eyes. “… on the twenty-seventh.”

The kitchen was quiet. She opened them. Ah, there was the Neal she knew and loved. (Truly. On both counts.) The folded arms, the narrowed eyes, the knots of muscle in both corners of his jaw.

“Were going to be in Omaha on the twenty-seventh,” he said.

“I know,” she said. “Neal, I know.

“So? Are you planning to fly back to L.A. early?”

“No, I … we have to get the scripts ready before then. Seth thought—”


“All weve got done is the pilot,” Georgie said. “Weve got nine days to write four episodes and get ready for the meeting—its really lucky that we have some time off from Jeffd Up this week.”

“You have time off because its Christmas.”

“I know that its Christmas, Neal—Im not skipping Christmas.”

“Youre not?”

“No. Just skipping … Omaha. I thought we could all skip Omaha.”

“We already have plane tickets.”

“Neal. Its a pilot. A deal. With our dream network.”

Georgie felt like she was reading from a script. Shed already had this entire conversation, almost verbatim, this afternoon with Seth.…

“Its Christmas,” shed argued. They were in their office, and Seth was sitting on Georgies side of the big L-shaped desk they shared. Hed had her cornered.

“Come on, Georgie, well still have Christmas—well have the best Christmas ever after the meeting.”

“Tell that to my kids.”

“I will. Your kids love me.”

“Seth, its Christmas. Cant this meeting wait?”

“Weve already been waiting our whole career. This is happening, Georgie. Now. Its finally happening.”

Seth wouldnt stop saying her name.

Neals nostrils were flaring.

“My moms expecting us,” he said.

“I know,” Georgie whispered.

“And the kids … Alice sent Santa Claus a change-of-address card, so hed know shed be in Omaha.”

Georgie tried to smile. It was a weak effort. “I think hell figure it out.”

“Thats not—” Neal shoved the corkscrew in a drawer, then slammed it shut. His voice dropped. “Thats not the point.”

“I know.” She leaned over her plate. “But we can go see your mom next month.”

“And take Alice out of school?”

“If we have to.”

Neal had both hands on the counter, clenching the muscles in his forearms. Like he was retroactively bracing himself for bad news. His head was hanging down, and his hair fell away from his forehead.

“This might be our shot,” Georgie said. “Our own show.”

Neal nodded without lifting his head. “Right,” he said. His voice was soft and flat.

Georgie waited.

Sometimes she lost her place when she was arguing with Neal. The argument would shift into something else—into somewhere more dangerous—and Georgie wouldnt even realize it. Sometimes Neal would end the conversation or abandon it while she was still making her point, and shed just go on arguing long after hed checked out.

Georgie wasnt sure whether this even qualified as an argument. Yet.

So she waited.

Neal hung his head.

“What does ‘right mean?” she finally asked.

He pushed off the counter, all bare arms and square shoulders. “It means that youre right. Obviously.” He started clearing the stove. “You have to go to this meeting. Its important.”

He said it almost lightly. Maybe everything was going to be fine, after all. Maybe hed even be excited for her. Eventually.

“So,” she said, testing the air between them. “Well see about visiting your mom next month?”

Neal opened the dishwasher and started gathering up dishes. “No.”

Georgie pressed her lips together and bit them. “You dont want to take Alice out of school?”

He shook his head.

She watched him load the dishwasher. “This summer, then?”

His head jerked slightly, like something had brushed his ear. Neal had lovely ears. A little too big, and they poked out at the top like wings. Georgie liked to hold his head by his ears. When hed let her.

She could imagine his head in her hands now. Could feel her thumbs stroking the tops of his ears, her knuckles brushing against his clippered hair.

“No,” he said again, standing up straight and wiping his palms on his pajama pants. “Weve already got plane tickets.”

“Neal, Im serious. I cant miss this meeting.”

“I know,” he said, turning toward her. His jaw was set. Permanently.

Back in college, Neal had thought about joining the military; he would have been really good at the part where you have to deliver terrible news or execute a heartbreaking order without betraying how much it was costing you. Neals face could fly the Enola Gay.

“I dont understand,” Georgie said.

“You cant miss this meeting,” he said. “And we already have plane tickets. Youll be working all week anyway. So you stay here, focus on your show—and well go see my mom.”

“But its Christmas. The kids—”

“They can have Christmas again with you when we get back. Theyll love that. Two Christmases.”

Georgie wasnt sure how to react. Maybe if Neal had been smiling when he said that last thing …

He motioned at her plate. “Do you want me to heat that back up for you?”

“Its fine,” she said.

He nodded his head, minimally, then brushed past her, leaning over just enough to touch his lips to her cheek. Then he was in the living room, lifting Alice up off the couch. Georgie could hear him shushing her—“Its okay, sweetie, Ive got you”—and climbing the stairs.


Copyright © 2014 by Rainbow Rowell

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Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Rachel Coker, December 14, 2014 (view all comments by Rachel Coker)
Rainbow Rowell's "Landline" was exactly as good as I heard it would be. Quirky, clever, by turns funny and full of heartache. It is not great literature, but it is easy to relate to, especially if you're a married mom of a certain age. It's surprisingly realistic for a novel featuring time travel.
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Melinda Ott, December 5, 2014 (view all comments by Melinda Ott)
I love me some Rainbow Rowell--both Eleanor and Park and Fangirl are on my "highly recommended list. When I found out about her newest book, I knew that I would be reading it.
Unfortunately, this may have been a case of unrealistic expectations on my part. I can't be sure, but I think I would have enjoyed this book more if it had not been written by Rainbow Rowell. It's not badly written, but it just didn't feel like a Rowell book for me. At first, it reminded me of Jennifer Weiner (whom I enjoy) and then, when the magic realism kicked in, it reminded me of an American Cecelia Ahern (whom I enjoy). It did not, however, seem like it was written by the same person who wrote Eleanor and Park and Fangirl.

I never felt that Rowell reached the emotional heights (or depths?) that she had in her other books. I kind of felt that Georgie always knew what the problem was with her marriage, so she never really had any big revelation. And, this may just be my prejudices, but I didn't really like Georgie.

I will say that the book did keep my attention, even if I found parts of it lacking. While I felt that Rowell never dove deep enough into the plot, I was at least interested enough to turn the page. And, honestly, I think someone who has never read anything by Rainbow Rowell would probably enjoy this book more than I did.
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skittles2116, October 25, 2014 (view all comments by skittles2116)
I have heard a lot of good things about this book and I really want to read it.
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Product Details

Rowell, Rainbow
St. Martin's Press
Family life
Literature-Contemporary Women
Publication Date:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
9.25 x 6.125 in 1 lb

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Featured Titles » Staff Favorites
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Contemporary Women
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Family Life
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Fiction and Poetry » Romance » General

Landline Used Hardcover
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Product details 320 pages St. Martin's Press - English 9781250049377 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

If we could call into the past and speak to earlier loves, would we beg them to let us go or egg them on in their long-ago pursuit of our affections? Rowell's tale of a marriage in crisis is woven with this particular bit of magic, which forces us to reimagine our personal narratives and reconsider our previous selves.

"Staff Pick" by ,

This is A Christmas Carol meets Rainbow Rowell. If you had a telephone that could call your spouse in the past, what would you say? Funny, a tiny bit tragic, and full of Rowell's usual magic and quirk, this is her best book so far.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Rowell follows up children's novels Fangirl and Eleanor and Park, both released in 2013, with an adult novel about the ups and downs of marriage. Georgie McCool (yes, that's her real name) is a successful TV writer with a handsome writing partner and a chance to finally take her career to the next level; she's just been offered her own pilot, which means no more writing jokes for characters she didn't invent. The only problem? Her husband, Neal, is growing increasingly discontent with Georgie's endless work and his status as stay-at-home dad to their daughters, Noomi and Alice. When Georgie cancels the family trip over Christmas, Neal takes the girls and leaves Georgie behind. This is where the story gets interesting. When Georgie calls Neal's home, she doesn't reach the husband who's on the verge of leaving her — she reaches the moody cartoonist she fell in love with during college, a past version of the current Neal. This magical plot device allows Georgie to investigate what drove her and Neal apart in flashbacks, and consider whether they were ever truly happy. Rowell is, as always, a fluent and enjoyable writer — the pages whip by. Still, something about the relationship between Georgie and Neal feels hollow, like it's missing the complexity of adult love, despite the plot's special effects. First printing of 100,000. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , “While the topic might have changed, this is still Rowell — reading her work feels like listening to your hilariously insightful best friend tell her best stories.”
"Review" by , “Her characters are instantly lovable, and the story moves quickly…the ending manages to surprise and satisfy all at once. Fans will love Rowell's return to a story close to their hearts.”
"Review" by , “After the blazing successes of Eleanor & Park, Fangirl and Attachments, it's become clear that Rowell is an absolute master of rendering emotionally authentic and absorbing stories....While the novel soars in its more poignant moments, Rowell injects the proper dose of humor to keep you laughing through your tears.”
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