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Someone by Alice McDermott
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Someone

by Alice McDermott

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3943027,176 (4.18)50
Recently added bytangledthread, bbrad, private library, ReeseGuyton, Quiltlove, Robbie1943, TanyaTomato, CristLib
  1. 20
    Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín (Ciruelo)
  2. 10
    Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt (Betty.Ann.Beam)
    Betty.Ann.Beam: They both deal with the Irish immigrant experience. I would suggest that you read Angela's Ashes first since Someone is rather difficult to decifer and may take several readings. Brooklyn by Colm Toibin is also in the same vein. They are all stories that bely tne American Dream.… (more)
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Don't hate me, McDermott lovers. I've tried her before, and after reading about this new book (and award winner), I thought I'd try again. She writes well, and I don't mind that it isn't action-packed. I do like that she examines relationships and feelings. I don't know why we don't quite hit it off. The ending was a bit abrupt for me--actually, I'll say very abrupt. I was thinking, things are just getting interesting. . . and then, "The End." But I think that's her style, and that's fine. Not every book I read can be the best one this year! ( )
1 vote cherybear | Jun 16, 2014 |
I can't remember who recommended that I give Alice McDermott a try but I have now read two of her novels in the past several weeks and I'm delighted to have added her to my list of favorite authors. This, her latest novel, is exquisite in its rendering of an ordinary life in all its extraordinariness. This is the story of Marie Commeford who grows up in a working class Brooklyn neighborhood with her parents and her brother Gabe. Her intense connection to each member of her family, and the nuances of those sweet but complicated relationships, is captured through stories, and through descriptions of moments: their taste, their smell, the sounds and the sights. McDermott effectively creates the evening in the street with shouting boys playing baseball and shy or awkward girls watching them and hoping to be noticed. There is heartbreak. These lives are not easy. But they are worthwhile; they have meaning and hope and place. Marie grows up, marries, has children. The novel follows her through each decade and it's a lovely story.

McDermott explores faith without flinching, without apology for frank doubt and a bit of sardonic practicality.
"All the thought and all the worry, all the faith and philosophy, the paintings and the stories and the poems, all the whatnot, gone into the study of heaven or hell, and yet so little wonder applied to the sinking into sleep. Falling asleep. All the prayers I had said before bed throughout my life, all the prayers I had made my children say --- Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be --- the Confiteor if some transgression had taken place --- missed the mark entirely. It was grace, the simple prayer before meals, that we should have been murmuring into our clasped hands at the end of the day: Bless us, oh, Lord, and this thy gift, which we are about to receive."
Ah yes, that is someone who knows what most to be thankful for, who knows the value of escape, in its purest form, escape from pain and loss and loneliness. Sleep is a most precious gift.

McDermott's use of language is both wonderfully straightforward and beautifully lyric. After learning of the lonely death of Bill Corrigan, a character from her childhood, and witnessing at Bill's wake the heartbreak of someone who once broke her own heart, Marie sees into the heart of this man, this Walter. "Walter who had come here tonight --- perhaps the only one of his contemporaries left behind --- come down from the Bronx to weep like a child *before the world closed up over Bill Corrigan's passing*." (italics - between the asterisks - are mine)
It's that last bit that I love. What a way to describe the passing of a human being out of our world, out of our time, eventually out of memory.

And yet, as much as this novel is about loneliness and loss and the terror of both, it is also about love, and about the inevitability of being loved by someone. ( )
  EBT1002 | Apr 30, 2014 |
read 1/14 audio,
ahhh, like a breath of fresh air - the story of the life of an ordinary woman presented in spare prose, smooth writing - not a lot happens, yet the the book effectively portrays an honest woman in a very authentic way - the story kept my interest and invited me to listen closely as i knew this woman intimately through mcdermott's skilled words. ( )
  njinthesun | Apr 15, 2014 |
Great read, reminds of Alice Munro. ( )
  Poprockz | Apr 15, 2014 |
This story starts like a novel and becomes, over time, a set it of linked chapters with great pieces of time in between. It tells the story of an ordinary Irish Catholic family in Brooklyn, starting between the world wars. It is the life of Marie from early childhood through old age as she navigates her love for her family, finding work, finding a husband and raising her own children. Threaded throughout is her devotion - not to God or church - but to her brother Gabe who was a natural born priest who loses his calling. As good Catholic themes go, there is the demonstration that each of us is flawed in some way, and yet, each of us has a chance of happiness (redemption) in life. McDermott delivers these stories in plain and powerful prose. ( )
1 vote Lcwilson45 | Mar 23, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
There are many reasons to write a novel.

One — maybe the best — is to bear compassionate witness to what it is to be alive, in this place, this time. This kind of novel is necessary to us. We need to know about other lives: This kind of knowledge expands our understanding, it enlarges our souls. There are differences between us, but there are things we share. Fear and vulnerability, joy and passion, the capacity for love and pain and grief: Those are common to us all. Those are the things that great novelists explore. And it’s this exploration, made with tenderness, wisdom and caritas, that’s at the heart of Alice McDermott’s masterpiece.
 
Each slide, each scene, from the ostensibly inconsequential to the clearly momentous, is illuminated with equal care. The effect on the reader is of sitting alongside the narrator, sharing the task of sifting the salvaged fragments of her life, watching her puzzle over, rearrange and reconsider them — and at last, but without any particular urgency or certitude, tilting herself in the direction of finally discerning their significance.

This is a quiet business, but it’s the sense-making we all engage in, the narrative work that allows us to construct a coherent framework for our everyday existence. It’s also a serious business, the essential work of an examined life.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374281092, Hardcover)

A fully realized portrait of one woman’s life in all its complexity, by the National Book Award–winning author

An ordinary life—its sharp pains and unexpected joys, its bursts of clarity and moments of confusion—lived by an ordinary woman: this is the subject of Someone, Alice McDermott’s extraordinary return, seven years after the publication of After This. Scattered recollections—of childhood, adolescence, motherhood, old age—come together in this transformative narrative, stitched into a vibrant whole by McDermott’s deft, lyrical voice.
     Our first glimpse of Marie is as a child: a girl in glasses waiting on a Brooklyn stoop for her beloved father to come home from work. A seemingly innocuous encounter with a young woman named Pegeen sets the bittersweet tone of this remarkable novel. Pegeen describes herself as an “amadan,” a fool; indeed, soon after her chat with Marie, Pegeen tumbles down her own basement stairs. The magic of McDermott’s novel lies in how it reveals us all as fools for this or that, in one way or another.
     Marie’s first heartbreak and her eventual marriage; her brother’s brief stint as a Catholic priest, subsequent loss of faith, and eventual breakdown; the Second World War; her parents’ deaths; the births and lives of Marie’s children; the changing world of her Irish-American enclave in Brooklyn—McDermott sketches all of it with sympathy and insight. This is a novel that speaks of life as it is daily lived; a crowning achievement by one of the finest American writers at work today.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:44:04 -0400)

"The story of a Brooklyn-born woman's life - her family, her neighborhood, her daily trials and triumphs - from childhood to old age"--Provided by the publisher.

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