The Stone Diaries marked a new phase in a literary career already ablaze with achievement. As well as the many international awards it received, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Governor General's Award, the book also met with universal critical acclaim and topped bestseller lists around the world. Carol ...
The Stone Diaries marked a new phase in a literary career already ablaze with achievement. As well as the many international awards it received, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Governor General's Award, the book also met with universal critical acclaim and topped bestseller lists around the world. Carol Shields, raved Maclean's, has crafted a small miracle of a novel. The Stone Diaries, said the New York Times Book Review, reminds us again why literature matters. The San Diego Tribune called The Stone Diaries a universal study of what makes women tick. Now, in Larry's Party, Carol Shields does the same for men. Larry Weller, born in 1950, is an ordinary guy made extraordinary by his creator's perception, irony and tenderness. Larry's Party gives us, as it were, a CAT scan of his life, in episodes between 1977 and 1997 that flash backward and forward seamlessly. As Larry journeys toward the new millennium, adapting to society's changing expectations of men, Shields' elegant prose transforms the trivial into the momentous. We follow this young floral designer through two marriages and divorces, his interactions with parents, friends and a son. And throughout, we witness his deepening passion for garden mazes -- so like life, with their teasing treachery and promise of reward. Among all the paradoxes and accidents of his existence, Larry moves through the spontaneity of the seventies, the blind enchantment of the eighties and the lean, mean nineties, completing at last his quiet, stubborn search for self. Larry's odyssey mirrors the male condition at the end of our century with targeted wit, unerringpoignancy and faultless wisdom.
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Laurence John Weller, of Winnipeg Canada, is a man who creates and designs mazes; a construction, like life, that can be confusing, deceptive, a series of dead-ends but at its centre, its heart, there can be a feeling of well-being and achievement.
The novel begins with Larry inadvertently taking another person?s coat, which looks like his own, from a café he frequents. The ?stolen? jacket is however not only of better quality and more expensive than Larrys but the sleeves are a few inches too long. This sums up how Larry feels about his life; other people?s lives are richer and superior to his own and the life he is leading doesn?t fit or feel comfortable.
While on honeymoon in England, Larry and his new wife Dorrie visit Hampton Court Maze. Larry deliberately loses himself in the maze and in doing so finds and discovers a love for the unicursal puzzle.
Larry?s Party is a novel about a man attempting to find the path through life of least resistance. Like the mazes he designs and creates, Larry?s life, like most other peoples, has hedges that obscure the view of the paths around you, the future. There are paths that lead to dead-ends. There are new paths, well trodden old paths and the path that will lead to the centre, achieving one?s goal. Not everyone reaches the centre of the maze. Some people get lost but will eventually find the exit. Some simply give up and head straight for the exit while some people through fear, anxiety, laziness or dread, due to the lack of any Ariadneal thread to guide them, will tread well worn paths until the exit appears in front of them. Of course like life a maze only has one exit.
But, Larry knows the path that leads to the centre of the mazes he creates and because of this he ?sometimes?sees his future laid out with terrifying clarity. An endless struggle to remember what he already knows.?
The subject matter of novel is a path well trodden: the telling of a man?s life from the seemingly limitless possibilities of youth and no inclining of mortality, marriage, children, divorce, nearing forty and beginning to question one?s life and realising that ?getting old was to witness the steady decline of limitless possibility? and then through the invisible barriers of numerical ascendency toward middle and old age.
However, Carol Shields has written a superbly profound and unpretentious novel that will particularly resonate with those of a certain age. The author?s style is as strong, fluid and elaborate as the mazes that Larry Weller designs. Carol Shields has constructed a slice of literature that shows how people are also themselves like a maze. We strive to find something within us which we will attempt to find ourselves or other people will help us look for it.
Originally posted at http://womensprizeforfictionbookreview.wordpress.com/
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