Awarded the 1999 Koret Jewish Book Award for Fiction
Synopses & Reviews
"An extraordinary novel." Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones
Heather Wolfe is a young, ambitious graduate student. Leonard Schiller is the seventy-year-old, out-of-print author who is the subject of her master's thesis. When the two meet, Schiller quickly falls under the seductive promise of Heather's admiration. As Brian Morton examines the intersections of these two lives, he intertwines their story with a third one that of Ariel, Schiller's tender and vulnerable daughter. What ensues is a rare and beautiful story that is at once comic, insightful, and moving.
"Conjures a fully formed and vibrant sense of life in all its complexity . . . These three characters seem so organic and real, their emotions and actions so natural, that the reader slips instantly into intimacy with them." Elle
"Never sinks under the weight of its own probing ideas . . . Morton stays rooted in the humanity of his characters and their diverse quests . . . Stirring." --San Francisco Chronicle
BRIAN MORTON is the author of three other novels, including A Window Across the River, which was a Today Book Club selection, Breakable You, and The Dylanist. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and New York University and lives in New York.
Reading Group Guide available at www.HarcourtBooks.com.
"Morton's respect for his characters and his audience is a quiet literary triumph. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"I love this novel! There is a touch of All About Eve in its delicious, complex story about the hunger for recognition, but, while the author is never fooled, he is always forgiving. There is dignity, tenderness, and above all, a warm intelligence that shines through every passage of this wonderful book. It actually does what Morton's protagonist strives for: 'to art, to bring a little more beauty, a little more tolerance, a little more coherence into the world.'" Philip Lopate
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.
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.
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.