From Anywhere But Here (a first novel that prompted Anne Tyler to proclaim, She is already a master ) to A Regular Guy ( What a pleasure, observed Newsweek, to see a successful novelist take a huge chance and fly high with it ), Mona Simpson has proven herself one of her generation s defining voices. In each book she has created a memorable cast ...
From Anywhere But Here (a first novel that prompted Anne Tyler to proclaim, She is already a master ) to A Regular Guy ( What a pleasure, observed Newsweek, to see a successful novelist take a huge chance and fly high with it ), Mona Simpson has proven herself one of her generation s defining voices. In each book she has created a memorable cast of searchers who leave home in order to reinvent themselves, to find the missing parent or dream. But in this superb novella a Pen/Faulkner finalist Simpson reveals the precise costs and rewards of staying out of affinity and obligation, out of chance, circumstance, and choice. In Green Bay, Wisconsin here vividly realized and imagined Bea Maxwell comes of age in the fifties, and Off Keck Road follows her extended circle along the arc of their lives, through their frustrations and occasional successes, well toward old age. A story of family and friends, of change and many generations, it gathers itself around this remarkable woman, who discovers much about the world from her experience in the one place she has always belonged. Mesmerizing, compact, and intense, Off Keck Road reflects fully half a century of American life and displays a writer at the maturity of her accomplishment."
Publishers Weekly, 2000-09-22 Simpson (Anywhere But Here) casts her net lightly over the reader in her fourth, uncharacteristically slim work of fiction, a novella, attempting to engage with a quiet plot about emotionally passive protagonists and the risk of staying disconnected. The narrative follows the lives of three women from 1956 to the present in Green Bay, Wis. Bea Maxwell, a practical, efficient woman, seems to have inherited the steadfast, can-do traits of earlier Midwestern heroines found in the landscapes of Willa Cather. The quintessential overachiever in high school, Bea is equally successful during a brief stint working for an advertising agency in Chicago. In terms of love or any risky emotional connection, however, Bea is somehow missing the boat, apparently by choice. She easily gives up her job and returns to Green Bay when her mother contracts rheumatoid arthritis. Once home, she is drawn to June Umberhum, a college friend who grew up off Keck Road. June has returned from an early marriage and is raising a daughter. Always a bit of a town rebel, June puts forth an effort to taste life, while Bea's desires remain submerged. Also telescoped into the neighborhood scene is Shelley, a Keck Road girl who contracted a mild case of polio as a child. The connections between these three women are gentle and unforced. They pass through the years in the eddies of their own interiors as their community expands around them, but the narrative hovers more than it grips. Simpson's signature fine writing renders subtle quirks of character gently and realistically, and she again finds fresh ways of capturing the familiar. Readers who enjoy the "day-in-the-average-life" tales of Anne Tyler will find a similar tone here. The appeal of Simpson's previous books should elicit a good initial response to this one, and her somewhat subdued plot structure may attract readers eager for reflective fiction. 40,000 first printing. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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