Body and Bread

Body and Bread

3.7 3
by Nan Cuba
     
 

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Years after her brother Sam's suicide, Sarah Pelton remains unable to fully occupy her world without him in it. Now, while her surviving brothers prepare to sell the family's tenant farm and a young woman's life hangs in the balance, Sarah is forced to confront the life Sam lived and the secrets he left behind. As she assembles the artifacts of her family's history

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Overview

Years after her brother Sam's suicide, Sarah Pelton remains unable to fully occupy her world without him in it. Now, while her surviving brothers prepare to sell the family's tenant farm and a young woman's life hangs in the balance, Sarah is forced to confront the life Sam lived and the secrets he left behind. As she assembles the artifacts of her family's history in east Texas in the hope of discovering her own future, images from her work as an anthropologist—images of sacrifice, ritual, and death—haunt her waking dreams.

In this moving debut novel, Nan Cuba unearths the power of family legacies and the indelible imprint of loss on all our lives.

Nan Cuba is the founder and executive director emeritus of Gemini Ink, a nonprofit literary center, and is currently an assistant professor of English at Our Lady of the Lake University. As an investigative journalist, she reported on the causes of extraordinary violence in publications such as Life and D Magazine. Her stories, poems, and reviews have appeared in Quarterly West, Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and Prose, The Bloomsbury Review, and the Harvard Review, among others. She is co-editor of Art at Our Doorstep: San Antonio Writers & Artists (Trinity University Press, 2008).

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“15 Riveting Reads to Pick Up in May 2013”
O, The Oprah Magazine

"Cuba’s piercing coming-of-age saga vibrates with youthful yearnings."
—Carol Haggas, Booklist

“Summer Books: 15 New Releases to Put on Your Reading List”
HuffPost Books

"Body and Bread is a beautiful examination of family dynamics in the wake of suffering, and the ways that grief continues to shape our lives far beyond the death of a loved one...a stunning debut novel." —Pam Johnston, San Antonio Express-News

“The quintessential Texas novel for the twenty-first century.”
—Catherine Kasper, Texas Books in Review

“Beautifully written, hauntingly true, expertly spanning multiple cultures, time periods and philosophies, Body and Bread is nothing short of a tour-de-force. You will be transported. You will be transformed.”
—David Bowles, The Monitor (South Texas)

"Body and Bread is a complex tapestry of lives, present and past, that come together to tell one woman's life. In viewing her life, we are given a bigger story reaching backwards and forward. I learned much about history reading this book. Cuba knows what the wise know; all our lives are interconnected into one common cloth. Here is bread for the spirit written from the heart." —Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

"This remarkable novel is an account of a loss that transforms, and of the lives of those nearest its narrator as she carries them with her through the years. To read this beautiful and generous narrative, its passionately exact prose, is to experience the widening of its scope as it makes room for us all in its pages as a chronicle of the past histories that unfold for each of us, within our continuously present selves." —Chuck Wachtel, author of The Gates

"Nan Cuba is one of those essential writers for whom character and landscape are inextricably intertwined. Sarah Pelton and her difficult family couldn't live anywhere but Texas and Cuba tells their many layered story with dazzling intelligence and a rare understanding of the forces of self-destruction. A compelling debut." —Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

"In Body and Bread, Nan Cuba has written a wonderful novel packed with superbly impossible characters who skirmish over the great questions of what is passed on and what can ever be left behind. The blood and guts of family life—its quixotic warfare and abiding love--spill out of this remarkable story. A rich and memorable book." —Joan Silber, author of Fools

"With its careful, heart-wrenching accumulation of the data of grief, BODY AND BREAD demonstrates how we demean life—our own, and the foreshortened lives of those we grieve—by living a half-life, inconsolable. Sarah Pelton goes so far out of her way to avoid the recent past that she propels herself into an ancient culture whose rituals help her excavate the absence with which she has supplanted memory and hope. With its luminous account of a just-vanished family history, its evocation of tragedy’s fragile aftermath, this novel reminds us that surviving is the hardest work of all. We dismiss, dismiss, and then—with a flicker of grace and fledgling gratitude—embrace our imperfect and evanescent second chances." —Debra Monroe, author of On the Outskirts of Normal

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781938126062
Publisher:
Engine Books
Publication date:
05/07/2013
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
601,778
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author


Nan Cuba received her MFA in fiction from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers, is the founder and executive director emeritus of Gemini Ink, a nonprofit literary center (www.geminiink.org), was twice the runner-up for the Dobie Paisano Fellowship, and received a Fundación Valparaiso Residency Grant in Mojácar, Spain. She is currently an assistant professor of English at Our Lady of the Lake University. As an investigative journalist, she reported on the causes of extraordinary violence in publications such as LIFE and D Magazine. Her stories, poems, and reviews have appeared in Quarterly West, Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry & Prose (runner-up for the journal’s fiction award), Bloomsbury Review, and Harvard Review, among others. She is coeditor of Art at Our Doorstep: San Antonio Writers & Artists (Trinity University Press, 2008).

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Body and Bread: A Novel 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Litwriter More than 1 year ago
Like an archaeologist meticulously excavating a dig of great consequence, Nan Cuba reveals, layer by layer, the history of three linked families, their alliances and mesalliances, and the secrets that threaten to tear the surviving members apart. The author's keen eye, like that of a seasoned natural scientist, misses nothing--from the exquisite details of the natural world to the precisely choreographed ambulation of a paraplegic. I was especially captivated by the narrator, a distinguished professor, who, despite her academic achievements, lives a solitary, even hermetic existence. Dr. Sarah Pelton does not present as a warm and fuzzy character--stand-offish, self-absorbed, determinedly ensconced in her ivory tower--but unresolved grief around the suicide of her cherished older brother reveals the all-too-human self masked by her absorption in scholarship. Pelton's nuanced flashbacks to childhood reveal a very different Sarah: at once the bright, inquisitive daughter of parents preaching tradition and respectability and the sister who idolizes her maverick, self-destructive brother, ever urging her to embrace the unfamiliar and chart her own course. Part coming-of-age story, part spiritual journey, Body and Bread is an intelligent, compassionate narrative that deftly navigates the vital realms of myth and memory, death and rebirth. 
taxbarbie More than 1 year ago
I was so disappointed in this book. It did not meet the expectations I had for it from the description. I found it disjointed with way too much detail on archeology that really did not enhance the story line as it was intended to. I never really cared much about the characters either. Yes, Sarah is still grieving and as a result has insulted herself, but I really didn't care. Nor did I find her brothers, even the beloved one, individuals that I would ever care to have lunch with. Yes, the author's eye for description is acute, but feeling did not come through as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago