Synopses & Reviews
In Elroy Nights
, Frederick Barthelme does a fresh turn on territory he's made his own over the last two decades: a middle-class America studded with characters maybe a little more wised-up than not cautious, skeptical, private folks who would rather joke about their problems than complain about them. Elroy Nights
is a reasonably successful artist and professor, fifty-something, who is caught between the midlife crisis of his forties and the much anticipated sublime decay of his sixties. Elroy and his wife Clare, perhaps too comfortable with each other, elect to try living separately, a choice characteristic of their relationship fond and thoughtful, responsive, generous to a fault.
So Elroy moves out, leases a condo, begins hanging out with his twenty-something students, and experiences a splendid reenchantment with the world. But when an unforeseen tragedy throws his, and everyone's, foibles and failures into high relief, he's confronted with reordering, retracking and reimagining a world gone suddenly haywire. With his trademark precision and pitch-perfect dialogue, Barthelme elegantly lays open this interweaving of twenty-year-olds with their fifty-something fellow traveler, exploring the relationships that develop in a delicate display of the sweetness of privacy and the privilege of intimacy. The result is a lovely, lilting romance, a spare yet generous masterpiece from a writer at the top of his form.
"Barthelme is the master of stealthy humor, machine-gun dialogue, and the fusing of ordinary moments with metaphysical resonance, traits that electrify his first novel since Bob the Gambler." Booklist
"Elroy Nights offers considerable pleasures." San Francisco Chronicle
"Barthelme's writing is so good I'd follow Elroy to a paint-drying festival." New York Times Book Review
"Barthelme is the master of the one liner." Boston Globe
"In his understated way, Barthelme captures the awe that Elroy feels toward these young people, and the occasional surprise he registers when he realizes that although he thinks and behaves like them, he no longer resembles them." Atlanta Journal Constitution
A generous and intimate new novel the first in six years from American literature's premier chronicler of middle-class angst in the new South.
About the Author
Frederick Barthelme is the author of twelve books of fiction, and the co-author with his brother, Steven, of the memoir Double Down: Reflections on Gambling and Loss. He directs the writing program at the University of Southern Mississippi and edits the literary journal Mississippi Review. He lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.