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Off Keck Road by Mona Simpson

Off Keck Road

by Mona Simpson

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152478,635 (3.32)10



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Showing 4 of 4
Huh? How did this get on my list? None of my GR friends have enjoyed it, I've not read anything else by the author, the blurb says little that appeals... In any case, I read to p. 16 and already was totally confused by all the names and r'ships. It wasn't the first time she saw Keck Road" is a line that is adjacent to a person who grew up on Keck Road, so who's the She?, And that line is part of a scene in the school gym, so what's the It? Pfah."
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 5, 2016 |
I am giving this one 2 1/2 stars because I didn't dislike it, but I also didn't like it. I found it to be a strange book. I think the premise is to tell of the life and times of a particular street, and the people impacted by it. It seemed to be a little disjointed and lacked a good flow. Not really recommending this one. ( )
  CarmenMilligan | Jan 18, 2016 |
I had heard rave reviews about this book. It won the Faulkner Award finalist label; but I was disappointed! Along with being a hard read, I couldn't follow the characters. It took a while to determine who the main character was! Anyway, it follows Bea through her life in a small midwestern town. I should say, her BORING life. I could not see the point to this book and don't understand the award at all. (It was also a Talking Volumes Book) ( )
  camplakejewel | Sep 28, 2013 |
The story starts off being about Bea Maxwell but then veers away to take in other members on and off Keck Road. The character placement seems jumbled. New characters appear without clear introduction or connection to Bea. I felt I needed a chart to keep characters straight. However, character development was brilliant, intimate even. When we first meet Bea, she is a college girl, home on vacation in the 1950s. She has certain definable traits that stay with her throughout the rest of the novella, ending in the 1980s. It's a portrait of a woman who never leaves her small town. Her life never really takes her beyond Green Bay, Wisconsin's city limits without reeling her back in. ( )
  SeriousGrace | May 26, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
Any reviewer's taste is limited. To say one doesn't like a book should not necessarily be to condemn it. There are many good books which I don't greatly like; I feel that this may be one and that, alchemically, it simply didn't work with me or for me.
There will undoubtedly be readers who find Simpson's pointillist turn of mind disappointing, who long for the tighter embrace of her larger works. These readers should be patient: ''Off Keck Road'' marks the place where origin leaves off and improvisation begins.
In "Off Keck Road," Simpson has written the great Green Bay novel. Granted, this is a literary category for which she has little competition, but when you consider that she barely mentions the Packers, it's no mean feat.
added by Shortride | editSalon, Patrica Kean (Nov 6, 2000)
Simpson has written a graceful novel about the compromises and surrenders hidden beneath the surfaces of quiet, uneventful lives.
OFF KECK ROAD packs a powerful wallop into 167 pages --- a paean to those who live their own lives in their own way and are happy with that. Isn't that what everybody wants anyway? A lovely book.
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Bea Maxwell remembered the first time she'd driven out to see the new part of town.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375709061, Paperback)

Off Keck Road seems an off-putting title for a book--just try saying it out loud. But that might be the point. Mona Simpson, celebrated author of Anywhere but Here, The Lost Father, and A Regular Guy, has written a novel about life's left-behinds. Her characters are people no one really wants, and Keck Road, in a dingy Wisconsin suburb, is a place where no one wants to live. Simpson's story follows tenderhearted Bea Maxwell, daughter of one of Green Bay's leading families, as she befriends first one, then another of the road's residents. Bea herself hails from a fancier part of town, where as a teenager in the 1950s she is busy and happy and not quite like everyone else: "It was as if adolescence--that new word that everyone all of a sudden knew--was a contagion Bea somehow had not caught. She agreed with her reasonable parents that dieting yourself half to death was dangerous. She found high heels ridiculous. She ate casseroles and desserts with the abandon of a ten-year-old boy." Bea never does pair up with anyone, boy or man, and her virginity, as imagined by Simpson, is a lifelong, defining condition: it "seemed an erectness in her posture, something symmetrical, silver."

Bea compensates for her lack of love by weaving a tight web of equally not-quite-the-thing friends: Bill, the divorced boss at the real estate agency where she works; June, a single mom; Matthew, a priest; and finally, Shelley, uneducated, clever, a polio survivor. A dual portrait emerges: Simpson shows us a gossipy, exclusionary Midwestern town. And she shows us, in full, Bea, a character who teeters between the conventional (golfer, broker of the year, board member at the church) and the off-beat. The author never forces Bea into the unlikely role of heroine, nor does she judge her curious circle of friends. In the end, Simpson's warts-and-all rendering has a real humanity to it. --Claire Dederer

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:44 -0400)

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