A haunting new novel from one of America's most prolific and respected novelists. Mudgirl is a child abandoned by her mother in the silty flats of the Black Snake River. Cast aside, Mudgirl survives by an accident of fate - or destiny. After her rescue, she will slowly forget her own origin, her past erased, her future uncertain. The well-meaning ...
A haunting new novel from one of America's most prolific and respected novelists. Mudgirl is a child abandoned by her mother in the silty flats of the Black Snake River. Cast aside, Mudgirl survives by an accident of fate - or destiny. After her rescue, she will slowly forget her own origin, her past erased, her future uncertain. The well-meaning couple who adopt Mudgirl quarantine her poisonous history behind the barrier of their Quaker values: compassion, modesty, and hard work - seemingly sealing it off forever. But the bulwark of the present proves surprisingly vulnerable to the agents of the past. Meredith 'M.R.' Neukirchen is the first woman president of a prestigious Ivy League university whose commitment to her career and moral fervor for her role are all-consuming. Involved with a secret lover whose feelings for her are teasingly undefined, concerned with the intensifying crisis of the American political climate as the United States edges toward a declaration of war with Iraq, M.R. is confronted with challenges to her professional leadership which test her in ways she could not have expected. The fierce idealism and intelligence that delivered her from a more conventional life in her upstate New York hometown now threaten to undo her. A reckless trip upstate thrusts M.R. Neukirchen into an unexpected psychic collision with Mudgirl and the life M.R. believes she has left behind. A powerful exploration of the enduring claims of the past, 'Mudwoman' is at once a psychic ghost story and an intimate portrait of an individual who breaks - but finds a way to heal herself.
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Publishers Weekly, 2011-10-10 Oates begins her 38th novel with a nod to Nietzsche ("What is man? A ball of snakes") that lies at the mud-caked heart of this tale of the rise and stumbling fall of M.R. Neukirchen, a brilliant academic whose childhood starts in the mudflats of the Black Snake River, where she is abandoned in 1965. But by 2002, M.R. has reached the top of the ivory tower. After a full ride to Cornell, and a Ph.D. from Harvard, she is now, at 41, the first female president of another Ivy institution. M.R.'s ambitious plans include upending the patriarchy and increasing diversity on campus, but both prove difficult in the post-9/11 "era of 'Patriotism' " as the U.S. prepares to invade Iraq. M.R.'s identity, idealism, and sanity are all threatened as she wades through obstacles, including sabotaging right-wing colleagues and students. Though she has never considered herself the victim of sexism, M.R. must confront her gender when it becomes the lens through which her leadership is judged. Likewise, the philosophical question she has dedicated her career to answering-what is the self?-must be turned inward. Oates's prose, dominated by run-on sentences to imitate fury or swiftness and a colloquial voice lacking nuance, is uninspired, but fans will relish the depth of this inquiry. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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