For anyone who has ever wondered about the mystery of their parents — has been stunned to discover they are people with lives of their own, not much different than us, and worthy of as much empathy as we can muster. Recommended By Warren B., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"Jill McCorkle has long been one of our wryest, warmest, wisest storytellers. In Hieroglyphics, she takes us on through decades, through loss, through redemption, and lands in revelation and grace. As always with McCorkle, the story feels so effortless and true that we might well miss what a high-wire act she's performing. But make no mistake: She's up there without a net, she never misses a step, and it's spectacular." —Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Great Believers
We can never really know our parents; we can only construct their lives from our limited perspective, and from the bits and pieces we are left with. And sometimes we don't need to know them, and sometimes the most charitable thing they can do is to leave us with a version of themselves that we can handle.
Lil and Frank married young, and were launched into their courtship and marriage when they learned that they'd both lost a parent at a young age. But over time, that marriage grew and deepened and strengthened, with each harboring their secrets from one another, each still wishing for so much more understanding of the parents they'd lost. Now that they've left Boston and retired to North Carolina, Lil is determined to leave a history, and a story, behind for their children, but she's doing it in her own way, and in ways that Frank might not want others to see. Meanwhile, Frank is determined to find what he can of what his father left behind at a house on the outskirts of town, now being rented by a young single mother, Shelley. But his repeated visits to Shelley's house trigger her own fears, as well as memories that she'd rather leave buried. Because after all, not all parents are ones you want to remember.
In a deeply layered and wise novel, Hieroglyphics reveals the difficulty of ever really knowing the intentions and dreams and secrets of the people who raised you. Jill McCorkle deconstructs and reconstructs what it means to be a father or a mother, and what it means to be a child piecing together the world all around you, a child learning to make sense of the hieroglyphics of history, and of memory.
"Engrossing....McCorkle finds an elegant mix of wistfulness and appreciation for life....McCorkle weaves a powerful narrative web, with empathy for her characters and keen insight on their motivations."
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Ingenious....Gathers layers like a snowball racing downhill before striking us in the heart with blunt, icy force."
Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"A powerful evocation of loss and yearning....McCorkle testifies to the ageless nobility of human beings who want the next generation to do better. A deeply moving and insightful triumph."
Booklist (Starred Review)
"Hieroglyphics is a novel that tugs at the deepest places of the human soul--a beautiful, heart-piercing meditation on life and death and the marks we leave on this world. It is the work of a wonderful writer at her finest and most profound." --Jessica Shattuck, author of The Women in the Castle
A mesmerizing novel about the burden of secrets carried across generations.
Lil and Frank married young, launched into courtship when they bonded over how they both--suddenly, tragically-- lost a parent when they were children. Over time, their marriage grew and strengthened, with each still wishing for so much more understanding of the parents they'd lost prematurely.
Now, after many years in Boston, they've retired to North Carolina. There, Lil, determined to leave a history for their children, sifts through letters and notes and diary entries--perhaps revealing more secrets than Frank wants their children to know. Meanwhile, Frank has become obsessed with what might have been left behind at the house he lived in as a boy on the outskirts of town, where a young single mother, Shelley, is just trying to raise her son with some sense of normalcy. Frank's repeated visits to Shelley's house begin to trigger memories of her own family, memories that she'd hoped to keep buried. Because, after all, not all parents are ones you wish to remember.
Hieroglyphics reveals the difficulty of ever really knowing the intentions and dreams and secrets of the people who raised you. In her deeply layered and masterful novel, Jill McCorkle deconstructs and reconstructs what it means to be a father or a mother, and what it means to be a child piecing together the world around us, a child learning to make sense of the hieroglyphics of history and memory.
About the Author
Jill McCorkle's first two novels were released simultaneously when she was just out of college, and the New York Times called her "a born novelist." Since then, she has published six novels and four collections of short stories, and her work has appeared in Best American Short Stories several times, as well as The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. Five of her books have been New York Times Notable books, and her most recent novel, Life After Life, was a New York Times bestseller. She has received the New England Booksellers Award, the John Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature, and the North Carolina Award for Literature. She has written for the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, Garden and Gun, the Atlantic, and other publications. She was a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in Fiction at Harvard, where she also chaired the department of creative writing. She is currently a faculty member of the Bennington College Writing Seminars and is affiliated with the MFA program at North Carolina State University.