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    Original Essays | July 14, 2015

    Joshua Mohr: IMG Your Imagination, Your Fingerprint

    When I was in grad school, a teacher told our workshop that if a published novel is 300 pages, the writer had to generate 1,200 along the way. I... Continue »
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      All This Life

      Joshua Mohr 9781593766030

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1 Burnside Literature- A to Z

The Heart Broke in


The Heart Broke in Cover







The story doing the rounds at Ritchie Shepherds production company was accurate when it appeared inside the staffs heads, when they hardly sensed it, let alone spoke it. It was like a faint stink, clear enough to notice, too trivial to mention. All through Teen Makeovers autumn and spring seasons, when they clustered around Ritchie, asking him questions they already knew the answers to, cadging compliments and begging him to give their enemies a telling-off, they watched him. They saw he wasnt as funny as before. Was he keeping his jokes for someone else? He moved in a weird way now, they thought. He walked with an awkward bounce, too eager, as if he reckoned something had given him extra energy, or made him younger.

As long as the rumor was unspoken, the hearts of the staff ached. The rumor was this: that after a long peace Ritchie was, once again, cheating on his wife, Karin, this time with an underage girl. They felt sorry for Ritchies family, but what if the damage went further, to the men and women on the company payroll? They sensed a personal threat. Scandal spread from the first carrier. Everybody liked Ritchie, but they were confident that he was selfish enough to infect them all. The production company offices were intoxicated by nervousness and suspicion. When twin fourteen-year-old girls showed up one day without an accompanying parent and asked for Ritchie, his PA, Paula, got up too suddenly from behind her desk, caught the trailing edge of a printed e-mail with her thigh, and upended a cup of coffee across her skirt. The chief lighting technician wrote off a fresnel worth two thousand pounds. He dropped it from the bridge when he saw Ritchie smile and touch the elbow of a lanky year ten in a short dress. “She had womanly curves earlier than most” is what the gaffer would have said in his defense, if he hadnt been afraid to hex them all, and he only yelled “Butterfingers!” while the people down below were jumping clear of chips of lens skittering across the floor. When the script editor saw Ritchie talking to a group of pert-bottomed schoolgirls in leotards she strode over and interrupted him in mid-sentence. She realized, as soon as she did it, that she was making a fool of herself. The girls teachers were there. The ache of fear in her heart had made her do it.

The ache could be soothed only by being put into words. The production team needed an utterance to lift the dread from their chests, and when the rumor eventually found its spoken form, it relieved them so completely that they believed it. Much better that Ritchies ten-year marriage to Karin should break up and that he should lose custody of his son and daughter over the pretty but older-than-twenty-one new presenter Lina Riggs than that the boss should be doing something illegal and shameful, something that would stain them all with the indelible dye of an unspeakable word. Without anyone noticing the shift, “I wonder if” and “I bet” and “You dont suppose” changed to “I heard” and “Ive got a juicy one” and “I know who Ritchies shagging.” Believing soothed them all.

Ritchie found that whenever he went near Riggsy a stupid smile appeared on his employees faces. He didnt know how happy he was making them by encouraging them to believe he was betraying his family with a legal adult. They didnt know that their rumor had become wrong as soon as it was said out loud, and that the original rumor, the ache of fear in their hearts, was true. They didnt know that Ritchie was seeing a not-quite-sixteen-year-old girl hed met when she appeared on Teen Makeover the previous season. He saw Nicole once a week. It was his intention to enjoy it for as long as he felt like it, then end it tenderly. Nicole would, he imagined, be moved that he should voluntarily give her up. It would be soon, and nobody would have found out. How could they? The two of them were careful, and London was a wild forest of red brick and roof tiles, where maps only reminded you how little you knew.


Copyright © 2012 by James Meek

Product Details

Meek, James
Farrar Straus Giroux
Family life
Literature-A to Z
Publication Date:
9 x 6 in

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The Heart Broke in Used Hardcover
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$9.95 In Stock
Product details 416 pages Farrar, Straus and Giroux - English 9780374168711 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "At the heart of British writer Meek's seventh work of fiction (after We Are Now Beginning Our Descent) are brother and sister Ritchie, has-been pop-star, and Bec Shepherd, promising malaria researcher, whose father was killed by an IRA man when the Shepherds were just kids. Then there's Alex Comrie, former drummer in Ritchie's band, the Lazygods, now a gene therapist and reluctant heir to his brilliant Uncle Harry's cancer research institute. Val Oatman, editor of a tabloid newspaper, watches all of them until they become famous — or notorious — enough for him to take them down. Both Alex and Val fall in love with the beautiful, intelligent, and honest Bec, who's begun using herself as a guinea pig for her own research. In this novel, the Dickensian coincidences on which the plot often turns can stretch our present-day credulity, in part because they've fallen out of fashion in contemporary literary fiction, in part because the rest of Meek's novel is so bent on verisimilitude. Still, there is much to enjoy in this ambitious portrait of deeply human characters, grappling with how to live in the modern world, where science is capable of almost anything, including, as Alex's uncle hopes, immortality. Agent: Natasha Fairweather, AP Watt." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Review" by , "James Meek's new novel has all the urgent readability of his previous work combined with a wide-ranging vision of social and personal responsibility that's very rare in current fiction. I suppose we could call it a moral thriller. Whatever we call it, I was enormously impressed."
"Synopsis" by , A major new novel from the author of the international bestseller The Peoples Act of Love

Ritchie Shepherd, aging former pop star and wildly successful producer of a reality teen talent show, is starting to trip over the intricacy of his own lies. Gallingly, his sister, Bec, a scientist developing a crucial vaccine, is as addicted to truth-telling as Ritchie is to falsehood. Ritchie relies on her certitude even as he seethes with resentment. A devastating chain of events is set into motion when Bec tells her fiancé, Val, a powerful tabloid editor, that she can't bring herself to marry him after all. Val has set himself up as the moral arbiter of the nation, which will turn out to be impeccable camouflage for an elaborate revenge plot intended to destroy Bec by exposing the people who are close to her — which now include Alex, a brilliant researcher in gene therapies who is so desperate to have a family of his own that Bec finds herself willing to lie and cheat in order to get him what he wants.

The Heart Broke In is a novel about everything that matters to us now. Rich and compendious, its themes include but are not limited to: children, celebrity, secrets and shame, the science of immortality, falls from grace, acts of terror, the widening gap between rich and poor, the death of privacy, the unbridled rise of tabloid culture, invisible heroism, and the wonderful, terrible inescapability of family. A big-hearted epic in the manner of Tolstoy, its also as shrewd, starkly funny and of-the-moment as Jonathan Franzen's Freedom or Jeffrey Eugenides's The Marriage Plot. Most of all, it is a staggeringly good read, fiction with the reverberating resonance of truth.

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