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    Contributors | September 15, 2015

    Mary Karr: IMG Memoir Tutorials with Mary Karr, Lena Dunham, and Gary Shteyngart

    Editor's note: It's been 20 years since the groundbreaking memoir The Liars' Club sent Mary Karr into the literary spotlight with its phenomenal... Continue »
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      The Art of Memoir

      Mary Karr 9780062223067


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Intimacy Cover

ISBN13: 9780684852751
ISBN10: 0684852756
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"Nothing is as fascinating as love, unfortunately."

Jay, the narrator of Hanif Kureishi's third novel, tells his story on the night that he is preparing to leave his lover, Susan, and their two boys. His departure will not be impulsive: "I have contemplated this rupture from all sides," he says. But it will happen. He and Susan live comfortably in London. Each loves the children. Yet Jay, "lost in the middle of [his] life," craves and depends on passion in life, and it is no longer there.

Known for "very funny works about serious topics" (San Francisco Review of Books) and his uncanny ability to capture the mores of our time, Kureishi strips away all posturing and self-justification to expose the flaws of his own protagonist and the failure of intimacy. Searingly honest, he explores the fears and desires that drive a man to leave a woman. Rarely has such challenging and complex emotion fit into so compact a novel; rarely has an experience both common and uniquely devastating been so courageously portrayed.

About the Author

Hanif Kureishi studied philosophy at the University of London and began writing plays for the Royal Court when he was twenty-one. Kureishi's script for My Beautiful Laundrette earned him an Academy Award nomination for best screenplay. He also wrote the screenplays for Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, London Kills Me (which he also directed), and My Son the Fanatic, adapted from the short story in his collection Love in a Blue Time. His novels The Buddha of Suburbia (winner of the Whitbread Prize) and The Black Album have been translated into fifteen languages. He lives in London.

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OneMansView, February 6, 2010 (view all comments by OneMansView)
Is it asking too much? (4.25*s)

In this short novel, the author is almost entirely concerned with exploring the distress and doubt that a man can feel upon reaching his final day with his wife and family before he almost certainly will carry out a plan to leave them the next morning, with no warning, just a note - the book’s first line: “It is the saddest night, for I am leaving and not coming back.” The book consists of scattered, very sharp observations on marriage, women, desire, life, etc as the narrator looks back across his life in random fashion, focusing on relationships. The book does not necessarily promote a continual search for a perfect relationship, but it is a critical look at the trade-offs and realities, often unexamined, of marriage.

Both the narrator and his wife Susan are smart, capable people – he being a screenwriter and she working in book publishing. Their facility with words hardly extends to their marriage, as it is beset with misunderstandings, pettiness, carping, detachment, and the like. On the surface, they have a comfortable existence, his wife being the epitome of efficiency, even strength; however, despite that “at home I don’t feel at home … there is desperation in her activity.”

Though this move has been contemplated for months, the narrator turns philosophical, reviewing his reasoning, reconfirming his justifications for leaving. For him women represent a chance to “start afresh,” but a new relationship is not a casual endeavor. To touch another’s body, “to put your mouth against another’s – what a commitment that is!” How can one disavow such possibilities? He asks, “Is it too much to want a tender and complete intimacy? Is it too much to want to sleep in someone’s willing arms?”

He recognizes the radical, unsettling implications of desire: “How unsettling is desire! That devil never sleeps or keeps still.” Once desire takes over one’s life, where does it end? “Surely you can’t constantly be replacing people who don’t provide what you need” Even his latest fling with much-younger, punker Nina, who caused a “violent jolt” whenever they met, has ended. “What makes me think I should have what I want?

But can one really ignore fundamental incompatibilities? He knows that “Susan and I cannot make one another happy.” He doesn’t want to openly admit that he actually does not want to love Susan, even reluctantly going to a marital counselor with her to avoid devastating them both. Despite the unhappiness, even on his last night he looks for some sign from Susan that he can remain with her and the boys, a tender gesture, something.

This book could be dismissed rather easily. The narrator’s obsessions and weaknesses are scarcely worthy of concern. Many marriages survive in similar circumstances, although at what costs? On the other hand, the book may be regarded as a sharp, even painful, look at contemporary marriage, perhaps the human condition, and the dilemmas that it can present.
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Product Details

Kureishi, Hanif
New York :
Man-woman relationships
Psychological fiction
Midlife crisis
Midlife crisis -- Fiction.
General Fiction
General Fiction
Edition Number:
1st Scribner ed.
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
7.85x5.50x.84 in. .53 lbs.

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

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Product details 128 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9780684852751 Reviews:
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