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Antonia Lively Breaks the Silenceby David Samuel Levinson
Synopses & Reviews
One writer's mysterious death, another's relentless quest for fame, and a bitter literary critic's passion for manipulation drive the story of this haunting novel set in a small upstate New York college town in the 1990s.
Catherine Strayed wonders if she'll ever know the truth about the death of her husband, a promising writer who died under circumstances that could have been accidental, or a suicide, or perhaps even murder. But after his death, instead of leaving the secluded college town to which he had brought her, she simply tries to go on with her life there. When her former mentor, who had also briefly been her lover--a powerful critic who singlehandedly destroyed her husband's chance for success--takes a teaching job at the college, Catherine's world threatens to collapse. For with him has come his latest protégé, an exotic young woman named Antonia Lively who has written a novel that has become a literary sensation. She insinuates herself into Catherine's life, and mysterious and frightening things start to happen as, unbeknownst to Catherine, the younger woman sets out to steal the truth of her life and the death of her husband so that she can plunder them for her next literary triumph.
Levinson's richly crafted characters and his tautly drawn plot mark the debut of an exciting young talent.
"The worlds of academia and literary criticism prove treacherous in Levinson's debut novel (after the short story collection Most of Us Are Here Against Our Will). After 18 months, Catherine Strayed still mourns her husband, Wyatt, a professor of creative writing whose first novel was recently published and whose death might have been a suicide caused by a devastating review from critic Henry Swallow. Unknown to Wyatt, Catherine, as a college student, had been a lover of the sexually predatory Henry. Meanwhile, to her discomfort, Henry has been hired by her late husband's university, and his talented creative writing protÃ©gÃ©e, Antonia Lively, who has a novel on the way, insinuates herself into Catherine's life. It turns out that the nakedly ambitious Antonia strip-mines the lives of those close to her for fiction. But will she be prepared to face the consequences of her actions? Although the story has the trappings of a psychological thriller, Levinson is more interested in charting the heedless ambition and corrosive jealousy of less-than-sympathetic characters, whose motivations are exposed through a series of clunky plot devices. Despite raising intriguing questions about a writer's responsibility, this novel too often strains credulity to truly illuminate the subject. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
David Samuel Levinson is the author of a story collection, Most of Us Are Here Against Our Will. His stories have appeared as well in Prairie Schooner, West Branch, and the Brooklyn Review, among others. He lives in New York City. This is his first novel.
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