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Angel Angel

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When it finally dawns on Augusta Iris that her husband has left her, she "goes out from underneath herself," pulls the shades, climbs into bed, and pretty much just quits her life. Angel Angel is a book about traveling down safe familiar paths only to find yourself suddenly in unexpected places. The story revolves around Augusta and her two sons, Henry and Mathew, who have had little to do with each other but are now forced to cope. At first Mathew, so overwhelmed by his mother's sadness, lies "like a cadaver up ...
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1996 Trade paperback Very good. No dust jacket as issued. Soft-cover. Very slight cover-and/or edge-wear. Spine NOT creased. NO stains, tears, writing, in tight book. Trade ... paperback (US). Glued binding. 211 p. Audience: General/trade. Read more Show Less

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Overview

When it finally dawns on Augusta Iris that her husband has left her, she "goes out from underneath herself," pulls the shades, climbs into bed, and pretty much just quits her life. Angel Angel is a book about traveling down safe familiar paths only to find yourself suddenly in unexpected places. The story revolves around Augusta and her two sons, Henry and Mathew, who have had little to do with each other but are now forced to cope. At first Mathew, so overwhelmed by his mother's sadness, lies "like a cadaver up in his old room," his heart banging away in his chest. Henry, on the other hand, tries to conquer the "snake hole of fear winding its way down through his stomach." He smokes pot with abandon, takes a job mowing lawns. Then one day he brings home Bette Mack, his new girlfriend. And in her own businesslike, gum-snapping way, it is Bette who ends up rattling the stillness of the Iris household, bursting into rooms without knocking, blowing out huge clouds of cigarette smoke, and leaving everyone stunned and blinking in her wake.

A droll and poignant novel of family dysfunction, certain to be relished by Anne Tyler and Alice Hoffman fans. April Stevens' spare prose and ear for the varied vernacular of life-styles and generations make her debut novel a wonderfully appealing, and quietly penetrating, study in remembrance and regeneration.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In her engaging debut novel, a quirky study of a dysfunctional suburban family, Stevens deftly portrays people in extreme mental states who attempt to pull themselves and one another back from the abyss. After Augusta Iris kicks Gordie, her artist husband, out of the house over his extramarital affair, she spends weeks in bed, barely speaking, consumed by grief and suppressed anger. When her stoned-out teenage son, Henry, a high-school dropout who mows lawns, learns that his father is living with a lover, he builds a bizarre sculpture in Dad's studio to work out his rage. Meanwhile, Henry's asocial brother Mathew, a Harvard Ph.D. candidate in chemistry, has returned home to comfort Mom. A recluse and health-food fanatic, Mathew hides in his room to avoid Bette Mack, Henry's feisty live-in girlfriend, who attempts to revive the comatose family with peppy advice and sassy critiques. Bette seduces Mathew, is caught, flees and then learns that she is pregnant by Henry, triggering a series of sharp confrontations and decisions that propel most of the main characters toward emotional maturity. Stevens uses her characters' vivid dreams as well as Augusta's interior monologues to perceptively explore familial conflicts. Her touch is assured, her ear for vernacular dialogue marvelously sharp. This is an auspicious debut. (Feb.)
Library Journal
This is the story of Augusta Iris, who takes to her bed when her husband leaves and refuses to come out for the entire summer. Or is it the story of her son Henry, a sweet, high school senior who spends too much time smoking pot and doesn't know how to help his mom or himself? Or maybe it's the story of Henry's brother, Matthew-a loner working on his Ph.D., who comes home to be helped as much as to help. Exploding onto the scene of these three and their sad lives is Bette Mack, Henry's gum-chewing, insightful, say-what-she-thinks girlfriend. Somehow Bette seems to know instinctively what they all need. Eventually, she blows the family apart and ultimately pulls them back together. This is a charming and appealing first novel, with quirky characters reminiscent of Anne Tyler's fiction. Highly recommended.-Kathy Ingels Helmond, Indianapolis-Marion Cty. P.L.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140242133
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/14/1996
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.72 (h) x 0.41 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2005

    Bird Face

    This book is sort of a hidden gem. The first time I read it, my interest was held, but I didn't think it was anything that great. But it was, because something made me read it twice and I dont read very many books twice. It really does pull at a familiar chord. I related to more than one character. Something special about stevens writing makes you relate to almost all the characters. Only criticism is it's not really that intellectual, but the characters in a minimal way are very very colorful.

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