Synopses & Reviews
Ann Beattie's Follies
is a superb novella and collection of stories about adult children, aging parents, and the chance encounters that irrevocably alter lives. Beattie, winner of four O. Henry prizes, has been called "one of our era's most vital masters of the short form" (The Washington Post Book World).
She is a masterful observer of domestic relations and the idiosyncratic logic that governs human lives.
In Follies, her most resonant collection, she looks at baby boomers in their maturity, sorting out their own lives and struggling with parents who are eccentric, unpredictable, and increasingly dependent. In "Fléchette Follies," a man rear-ends a woman at a stoplight, and the ripple effect of that encounter is vast and catastrophic. In "Apology for a Journey Not Taken," a woman's road trip is perpetually postponed by the UPS deliveryman who wants to watch TV in her house, by the girl next door who has lost her dog, and by the death of her friend in a freak accident. Impatient in his old age, the protagonist of "That Last Odd Day in L.A." can hardly manage a pleasant word to his own daughter, but he finds a chance for redemption on the last day of a vacation he spends with his niece and nephew.
Ann Beattie is at the top of her form in this superb collection, writing with the vividness, compassion, and sometimes morbid wit that have made her one of the most influential writers of her generation.
"Odd but subtle coincidences, missed connections, strained family relations these are the major dynamics in Beattie's latest collection of nine stories and a novella. In the latter, 'Flechette Follies,' a random accident George Wissone rear-ends Nancy Gregerson at a stoplight in Charlottesville, Va., sparks a connection that affects far-flung people. Nancy's troubled son is MIA in London, and she hires George (whom she correctly guesses to be in the CIA) to track him down. When George himself disappears, it affects not only Nancy but also George's on-again, off-again girlfriend and others who join forces to learn his fate. Beattie's stories of adult children attempting to make sense of their aging parents and their own relationships are also compelling. In 'Find and Replace,' a woman tries to comprehend her mother's decision to suddenly move in with another man following the death of her husband; 'The Rabbit Hole as Likely Explanation' spools out the strained relations between two siblings after their mother has a stroke. While a few stories read more like extended vignettes, Beattie's trademarks are here: the careful language, the deft humor and the sad, slow sweetness of life winding its way on. Fans should be happy to find that after all these years, this esteemed writer's characters can still be expected to muse over life's ironies and find no easy conclusions. Agent, Lynn Nesbit. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Beattie's seventh collection explores middle age and generational conflict in an edgy novella and nine stories of varying intensity and excellence." Kirkus Reviews
"[T]he tales in this volume showcase a newly flexible voice that accommodates both the author's patented gift for social observation and her more recent interest in her characters' inner lives." Michiko Kakutani, the New York Times
"In her new collection...Beattie struggles mightily to break out of a minimalist straitjacket she fashioned years ago. Sometimes she succeeds a few of these stories are her strongest in years and sometimes she does not." David Means, the New York Times Book Review
From the author of Park City comes a superb novella and a collection of brilliant stories about adult children, aging parents and the chance encounters that alter lives.
About the Author
Ann Beattie has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections, in John Updike’s The Best American Short Stories of the Century, and in Jennifer Egan’s The Best American Short Stories 2014. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story. In 2005, she received the Rea Award for the Short Story. She was the Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia. She is a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She and her husband, Lincoln Perry, live in Maine and Key West, Florida.
Table of Contents
Find and replace
Apology for a journey not taken
The garden game
The rabbit hole as likely explanation
Just going out
That last odd day in L.A.