Synopses & Reviews
A wise and entertaining novel about a woman who has lived life on her own terms for seventy-five defiant and determined years, only to find herself suddenly thrust to the center of her familys various catastrophes
Meet Florence Gordon: blunt, brilliant, cantankerous and passionate, feminist icon to young women, invisible to almost everyone else. At seventy-five, Florence has earned her right to set down the burdens of family and work and shape her legacy at long last. But just as she is beginning to write her long-deferred memoir, her son Daniel returns to New York from Seattle with his wife and daughter, and they embroil Florence in their dramas, clouding the clarity of her days and threatening her well-defended solitude. And then there is her left foot, which is starting to drag….
With searing wit, sophisticated intelligence, and a tender respect for humanity in all its flaws, Brian Morton introduces a constellation of unforgettable characters. Chief among them, Florence, who can humble the fools surrounding her with one barbed line, but who eventually finds there are realities even she cannot outwit.
"Morton (Starting Out in the Evening) offers up a fascinating family presided over by the irascible Florence Gordon, a 75-year-old New York City intellectual and feminist activist who likes to surprise, argue, and criticize. Florence never sought public adoration during her long career committed to women's empowerment, but, now that she has been touted as 'an American classic' by her young new editor, she finds she likes the attention. Her pending memoir will be her crowning literary achievement, but her family's temporary relocation to New York from Seattle interferes with her process: she considers it an unwelcome intrusion into her well-established routine. Florence's son, Daniel, is a Seattle policeman, an apparently disappointing career choice for the son of a famous feminist, and she cannot understand why she feels so little affection for him. She thinks his wife, Janine, is a vacuous suck-up and also has a difficult time connecting with her inquisitive teenage granddaughter, Emily, although the two eventually develop a tentative rapport. Florence never sees the disaster looming in her son's marriage after an unexpected, life-altering medical diagnosis causes her to make two fateful decisions about her own future. As a strong-willed, independent woman, Florence is comfortable with herself and the manner in which she deals with others 'one of the fine things in life is the difference between what goes on inside you and what you show to the world.' Morton's characters are sharply drawn, vivid in temperament and behavior, and his prose smartly reveals Florence's strength and dignity. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A wise and entertaining novel about a woman who has lived life on her own terms for seventy-five defiant and determined years, only to find herself suddenly thrust to the center of her family’s various catastrophes
This is the story of Nora and Isaac, once lovers, estranged for five years, and now back in one another's lives. Isaac, a photographer, is dealing with the reality, at 40, that he will probably never be a star artist and is settling down in his comfortable job for a suburban New Jersey newspaper, mentoring students whose future looks brighter than his own. Nora, 9 years younger, has always been his great love, and after a five year hiatus, she's back, still struggling as a writer, still taking care of her aging aunt Billie, still unsure whether or not she can commit to Isaac. The problem is, Nora can't help but write about the people in her life, and although she is kind and sensitive and thoughtful and funny, in her writing she is brutal, and seems unable not to seek out the weakness in her subjects, thereby mortally damaging her relationships. Can this love affair survive the slings and arrows of art?
Isaac and Nora haven't seen each other in five years, yet when Nora phones Isaac late one night, he knows who it is before she's spoken a word. Isaac, a photographer, is relinquishing his artistic career, while Nora, a writer, is seeking to rededicate herself to hers.
Fueled by their rediscovered love, Nora is soon on fire with the best work she's ever done, until she realizes that the story she's writing has turned into a fictionalized portrait of Isaac, exposing his frailties and compromises and sure to be viewed by him as a betrayal. How do we remain faithful to our calling if it estranges us from the people we love? How do we remain in love after we have seen the very worst of our loved ones? These are some of the questions explored in a novel that critics are calling "an absolute pleasure" (The Seattle Times).
Leonard Schiller, an Upper West Side writer of some repute and a relic of The New York Intellectual scene, is courted in the twilight of his life by Heather, a young, ambitious, graduate student from Brown who wants to writer her master's thesis on Schiller's novels. Meanwhile, Schiller's daughter, Ariel, an aerobics instructor,who Heather views as "another boring forty-year-old obsessed with her biological clock," is looking for love and a father for a much-longed-for child. In this finely tuned serious novel, the lives of these disparate people converge.
Leonard Schiller is a novelist in his seventies, a second-string but respectable talent who produced only a small handful of books. Heather Wolfe is an attractive graduate student in her twenties. She read Schiller’s novels when she was growing up and they changed her life. When the ambitious Heather decides to write her master’s thesis about Schiller’s work and sets out to meet him—convinced she can bring Schiller back into the literary world’s spotlight—the unexpected consequences of their meeting alter everything in Schiller’s ordered life. What follows is a quasi-romantic friendship and intellectual engagement that investigates the meaning of art, fame, and personal connection. "Nothing less than a triumph" (The New York Times Book Review
), Starting Out in the Evening
is Brian Morton’s most widely acclaimed novel to date.
Adam Weller is a moderately successful novelist, past his prime, but squiring around a much younger woman and still longing for greater fame and glory. His former wife, Eleanor, is unhappily playing the role of the overweight, discarded woman. Their daughter Maud has just begun a frankly sexual affair that unexpectedly becomes life-changing. Into each of these lives the past intrudes in a way that will test them to their core. With perfect pitch and a rare empathy, Brian Morton is equally adept at portraying the life of the mind and how it plays out in the world, brilliantly tracing the border between honor and violation. Here Morton tells his strongest story yet—a story about love, friendship, literary treachery, and what each of us owes to the past.
About the Author
BRIAN MORTON is the author of four previous novels, including Starting Out in the Evening, which was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and was made into an acclaimed feature film, and A Window Across the River, which was a Book Club selection of the Today show. He teaches at New York University, the Bennington Writing Seminars, and Sarah Lawrence College, where he also directs the writing program. He lives in New York.
Table of Contents
"A funny, precise and beautifully written novel. I loved this book." --Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones