Synopses & Reviews
Judith Whitman always believed in the kind of love that "picks you up in Akron and sets you down in Rio." Long ago, she once experienced that love. Willy Blunt was a carpenter with a dry wit and a steadfast sense of honor. Marrying him seemed like a natural thing to promise. But Willy Blunt was not a person you could pick up in Nebraska and transport to Stanford. When Judith left home, she didn't look back.
Twenty years later, Judith's marriage is hazy with secrets. In her hand is what may be the phone number for the man who believed she meant it when she said she loved him. If she called, what would he say?
TO BE SUNG UNDERWATER is the epic love story of a woman trying to remember, and the man who could not even begin to forget.
"Judith Whitman is 44, questioning her life, and thinking about the hometown boy she jilted almost 30 years before in McNeal's affecting second novel (after Goodnight, Nebraska). At Stanford, Judith had met the 'older, urbane' Malcolm and they married, moved to Los Angeles, and built an enviable life. Now she's bored with her suave, unfaithful banker husband, guilty about her lack of maternal feelings for her teenage daughter, and overburdened and distracted at her job editing a 'respected television drama.' McNeal's agile prose manages to render Judith sympathetic, though she's not an easy character to like. Flashbacks evoke her youth in Vermont, and her decision, when her parents separate and her mother becomes neglectful, to move to Nebraska to live with her father. When Judith, as a high school senior, falls in love with Willy, a local intelligent and sensitive carpenter, she imagines a simple life in the town of Rufus Sage, but after she leaves for college the relationship unravels. Despite a slow start and dialogue heavy on aphorisms, McNeal succeeds with his obvious affection for the daily rhythms of life in Nebraska and his sensitive exploration of marital stresses and psychological accommodations, in addition to a moving surprise denouement. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Tom McNeal was born in Santa Ana, California, where his father and grandfather raised oranges. He spent part of every summer at the Nebraska farm where his mother was born and raised, and after earning a BA in English at UC Berkeley and an MFA in Creative Writing at UC Irvine, he taught school in the town that was the inspiration for his first novel, Goodnight, Nebraska. Tom has been a Wallace Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University, and his short stories have been widely anthologized.