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Bleeding Heart

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Despite its weak title, this is an exceedingly powerful, inspired novel. Shriver ( The Female of the Species ; Checkers and the Derailleurs ) is an American living in Belfast, the setting of her engrossing story. She brings to this benumbed and blighted city an outsider's eye and ear, and bestows them on her heroine, Estrin Lancaster, a charming, reckless 32-year-old American. Estrin, who has knocked about the world, becomes involved with Farrell O'Phelan, a cynical and pragmatic bomb specialist. An enigmatic, disillusioned Catholic, O'Phelan's jaundiced view of the Troubles is voiced in potent, irreverent language. The story, ultimately tragic, is woven through with threads of Irish politics and the anguish of people whose lives can take meaning only from external cues. Shriver's writing is outstandingly lucid and bright, with an original blend of American and Irish whimsical irony. Commanding both the sweep of Irish politics and the nuances of human relations, she draws a splendid map for getting nowhere. She offers no solutions, and mocks herself in the ``Glossary of Troublesome Terms'': ``Troubles Writer: A known subspecies in the North, almost always of foreign extraction. Compulsively Romeo-and-Juliets his characters across the sectarian divide. . . . Gets everything wrong, with feeling.'' (Sept.)
Library Journal
With grim, violent Belfast as a backdrop, this novel follows the ill-fated love affair of two very different, very difficult people. Estrin Lancaster has fled the stability of her native Philadelphia, globe-hopping through her adulthood to various tumultuous locales. As middle age approaches, she is settled, temporarily as usual, in a bombed-out house on the line between Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods and working as a barmaid. Farrell O'Phelan, a jaded Catholic bomb-disposer of more advanced years, meets Estrin on a brewery tour. Their year of wrangling romance satisfies neither: they share a horror of commitment. Similar to her previous novels ( The Female of the Species, LJ 2/15/87; Checker and the Derailleurs , LJ 5/15/88) in its full development of original, complicated people, Shriver's newest novel should add to her reputation and her following.-- Ann H. Fisher, Radford P.L., Va.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374114329
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 11/28/1990
  • Pages: 427
  • Product dimensions: 6.51 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Lionel  Shriver
Lionel Shriver
Novelist and journalist Lionel Shriver won the coveted Orange Prize in 2005 for We Need to Talk about Kevin, a gripping literary page-turner that delves into the tragic possibilities of motherhood gone awry. Her features, op-eds, and reviews have appeared in such publications as The Guardian, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and the Economist.

Biography

At age seven, Lionel Shriver decided she would be a writer. In 1987, she made good on her promise with The Female of the Species, a debut novel that received admiring reviews. Shriver's five subsequent novels were also well-received; but it was her seventh, 2003's We Need to Talk About Kevin, that turned her into a household name.

Beautiful and deeply disturbing, ...Kevin unfolds as a series of letters written by a distraught mother to her absent husband about their son, a malevolent bad seed who has embarked on a Columbine-style killing spree. Interestingly enough, when Shriver presented the book proposal to her agent, it was rejected out of hand. She shopped the novel around on her own, and eight months later it was picked up by a smaller publishing company. The novel went on to win the 2005 Orange Prize, a UK-based award for female authors of any nationality writing in English.

A graduate of Columbia University, Shriver is also a respected journalist whose features, op-eds, and reviews have appeared in such publications as The Guardian, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, and the Economist. Since her breakthrough book, she has continued to produce bestselling fiction and gimlet-eyed journalism in equal measure.

Good To Know

In our interview, Shriver shared some interesting anecdotes about herself with us:

"I am not as nice as I look."

"I am an extremely good cook -- if inclined to lace every dish from cucumber canapés to ice cream with such a malice of fresh chilies that nobody but I can eat it."

"I am a pedant. I insist that people pronounce ‘flaccid' as ‘flaksid,' which is dictionary-correct but defies onomatopoeic instinct and annoys one and all. I never let people get away with using ‘enervated‘ to mean ‘energized,‘ when the word means without energy, thank you very much. Not only am I, apparently, the last remaining American citizen who knows the difference between 'like' and ‘as,‘ but I freely alienate everyone in my surround by interrupting, ‘You mean, as I said.' Or, 'You mean, you gave it to whom,' or ‘You mean, that's just between you and me. ' I am a lone champion of the accusative case, and so –- obviously -- have no friends."

"Whenever I mention that, say, I run an eight-and-a half-mile course around Prospect Park in Brooklyn, or a nine-mile course in Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens in London, I inevitably invite either: ‘Huh! I only run five! Who does she think she is? I bet she's slow. Or I bet she's lying.' Or: ‘Hah! What a slacker. That's nothing. I run marathons in under two and a half hours!' So let's just leave it that I do not do this stuff for ‘fun,' since anyone who tells you they get ‘high' on running is definitely lying. Rather, if I did not force myself to trudge about on occasion, I would spend all day poking at my keyboard, popping dried gooseberries, and in short order weigh 300 pounds. In which event I would no longer fit through the study door, and I do not especially wish to type hunched over the computer on the hall carpet."

"My tennis game is deplorable."

"Most people think I'm working on my new novel, but I'm really spending most of 2004 getting up the courage to finally dye my hair."

"I read every article I can find that commends the nutritional benefits of red wine -- since if they're right, I will live to 110."

"Though raised by Aldai Stevenson Democrats, I have a violent, retrograde right-wing streak that alarms and horrifies my acquaintances in New York. And I have been told more than once that I am ‘extreme.' "

"As I run down the list of my preferences, I like dark roast coffee, dark sesame oil, dark chocolate, dark-meat chicken, even dark chili beans -- a pattern emerges that, while it may not put me on the outer edges of human experience, does exude a faint whiff of the unsavory."

"Twelve years in Northern Ireland have left a peculiar residual warp in my accent. House = hyse; shower = shar; now = nye. An Ulster accent bears little relation to the mincing Dublin brogue Americans are more familiar with, and these aberrations are often misinterpreted as holdovers from my North Carolinian childhood (I left Raleigh at 15). Because this handful of souvenir vowels is one of the only things I took away with me from Belfast -- a town that I both love and hate, and loved and hated me, in equal measure -- my wonky pronunciation is a point of pride (or, if you will, vanity), and when my ‘Hye nye bryne cye' ( = ‘how now brown cow') is mistaken for a bog-standard southern American drawl I get mad."

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    1. Hometown:
      Brooklyn, New York, and London, England
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 18, 1957
    2. Place of Birth:
      Gastonia, North Carolina
    1. Education:
      B.A., Barnard College of Columbia University, 1978; M.F.A. in Fiction Writing, Columbia University, 1982
    2. Website:

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