The new novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 'The Stone Diaries'. Larry's Party is about being a man in this part of the twentieth century, when so many supports have been removed, and covers the life of its protagonist, Larry, between the ages of 27 and 47, from 1977 to 1997, and illustrates how men have had to change; it looks at how ...
The new novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of 'The Stone Diaries'. Larry's Party is about being a man in this part of the twentieth century, when so many supports have been removed, and covers the life of its protagonist, Larry, between the ages of 27 and 47, from 1977 to 1997, and illustrates how men have had to change; it looks at how you define masculinity in the post-feminist world. Two strands run through the book: work and goodness. The chapters are at once independent of each other and yet connected, with titles like: Larry's Friends, Larry's Look, Larry's Kid, Larry's Folks, Larry's Love, Larry's Penis, Larry's Speech, Men called Larry, Larry's Alternate, Larry's Party, Larry's Real Life Life, Larry So Far, Old Larry.
This book caused me to reflect on life's various stages and it was well written. Larry"s life was well documented, but that did not pulled my emotions into play. Actually, I was indifferent to his life events. But I stuck with it and was glad for the nice surprise ending.
Publishers Weekly, 1997-08-11 A chronicle of one ordinary man's life as he searchesæat first, bumblingly and inarticulatelyæfor happiness and the meaning of existence, this triumphant novel runs in delicious counterpoint to Shields's evocation of Daisy Stone's life in the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Stone Diaries. In following her male protagonist over five decades, Shields observes the changing social conventions, gender roles, vernacular idiosyncracies and moral constructs of the times, interpolating these details into the narrative with subtle wit and an unerring eye for telling details. She also delineates the stages of life as the body ages and the future offers only the "steady decline of limitless possibility," while the mind hopes for the solace of some universal truths. Born in 1950 into a blue-collar household in Winnipeg, Larry Weller becomes a floral designer for want of a better career goal. Aware of his lack of education, awkward and sexually timid (his eventual sexual awakening is both raunchy and funny), Larry is dimly conscious of another aspect of life beyond his parochial horizons. Only during his first honeymoon in England, willfully lost inside the maze at Hampton Court, does he get a glimmer that he might be more than "a man of limited imagination and few choices." When his fascination with shrubby labyrinths becomes a professional career, Larry moves into a wider world (and from Canada to the U.S. and back again) as a financially successful and internationally recognized maze builder. He also endures emotional traumas: the breakup of two marriages, estrangement from his son, midlife crisis and a catastrophic illness. Meanwhile, he is plagued with inchoate longings to understand the dimly perceived relationship between the mazes he constructs and "the undertow of something missing" in his existence. Shields offers snippets of Larry's journey through life in short chapters that often intersect and double backæa turn here, a repetition there. The pathway of her maze becomes clear only at the end, when Larry and his lover give a party to celebrate the coincidence of his two ex-wives arriving in Toronto. Evoked in a brilliant cascade of conversationæin which the central question is "What's it like being a man in the last days of the 20th century?"æthe party provides Larry with epiphanic insight, and the reader with some delightful surprises. The novel glows with Shield's unsentimental optimism and her supple command of a sweetly ironic and graceful prose. Penguin audio; author tour. (Sept.)
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