Bound

Bound

2.0 27
by Antonya Nelson
     
 

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Antonya Nelson is known for her razor-sharp depictions of
contemporary family life in all of its sometimes sad, sometimes
hilarious complexity. Her latest novel has roots in her own youth in
Wichita, in the neighborhood stalked by the serial killer known as BTK
(Bind, Torture, and Kill). A story of wayward love and lost memory, of
public

Overview

Antonya Nelson is known for her razor-sharp depictions of
contemporary family life in all of its sometimes sad, sometimes
hilarious complexity. Her latest novel has roots in her own youth in
Wichita, in the neighborhood stalked by the serial killer known as BTK
(Bind, Torture, and Kill). A story of wayward love and lost memory, of
public and private lives twisting out of control, Bound is Nelsons most accomplished and emotionally riveting work.

Catherine
and Oliver, young wife and older entrepreneurial husband, are
negotiating their difference in age and a plethora of well-concealed
secrets. Oliver, now in his sixties, is a serial adulterer and has just
fallen giddily in love yet again. Catherine, seemingly placid and
content, has ghosts of a past she scarcely remembers. When Catherines
long-forgotten high school friend dies and leaves Catherine the guardian
of her teenage daughter, that past comes rushing back. As Oliver
manages his new love, and Catherine her new charge and darker past,
local news reports turn up the volume on a serial killer who has
reappeared after years of quiet.

In a time of hauntings and new
revelations, Nelsons characters grapple with their public and private
obligations, continually choosing between the suppression or indulgence
of wild desires. Which way they turn, and what balance they find, may
only be determined by those who love them most.

Editorial Reviews

Liesl Schillinger
If you take an exit off a Midwestern highway and drive through a square-gridded prairie town, you might think there's nothing much going on, nothing to see but the 7-Eleven and the high school, nothing to do but gas up, get biscuits and gravy at the diner and move on. But in her new novel…Antonya Nelson compels you to linger, makes you take in the shimmer of the long gray highway beside the strip malls, the promise and punishment of the steely blue sky. This America is her stage, and its characters are her people…It's a liberation to read Nelson here in the long form. There's no question of her superlative gifts for the short story…In Bound, Nelson makes her story as big as it should be, and gives her characters room to run.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Nelson’s (Talking in Bed) first novel in 10 years is set largely in the author’s childhood town of Wichita, Kans. Catherine Desplaines and her husband, Oliver, are at a crossroads in their marriage. The much older Oliver has perfected a pattern: marry, stay around for 15 years, then trade up to a younger woman. He and Catherine have been married for 18 years, which might seem impressive if Oliver didn’t have a mistress, known only as “the Sweetheart.” Catherine is too preoccupied to notice his infidelities since she’s become the guardian of an old friend’s teenage daughter, Cattie, after the friend dies suddenly. The girl’s impending arrival sends Catherine’s mind reeling back to her adolescence, when the infamous BTK (bind-torture-kill) serial killer, who coincidentally makes a reappearance in the novel’s present day, terrorized the neighborhood. Plays on the idea of “binding” can grow precious at times, but Nelson effectively explores issues of obligation, responsibility, and the possibility of creating new patterns and freeing ourselves from the past. Chapters from the perspectives of Oliver, Catherine, Cattie, and even Cattie’s dog assemble into a coherent, compassionate whole. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

“Nelson's prose looks to be as sleekly tough-minded as ever … essential for those serious about contemporary literature.” —Library Journal

“A small gem--more understated than Nelson's recent stories, but equally sharp and deeply moving.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“A short story writer of exhilarating wit and empathy, Nelson returns to the novel after a decade with heightened authority. Tightly coiled, edgy, and funny … Nelson's sleekly powerful turbine of a novel riffs cannily on the many meanings of ‘bound.'” —Booklist (starred review)

“Lyrical realism, troubled marriages, and sadistic serial murder? I don't see who wouldn't want to read this.” —Gawker

“Antonya Nelson wields words with breathtaking precision in Bound … this is no heartwarming makeshift-family-bonding story; Nelson has something truer in mind. Turning tiny moments into revelations, she brilliantly exposes the fears and delusions that drive people to rationalize destructive choices … [a] wise exploration of the war between our worst impulses and our better selves.” —O Magazine

“I have to agree with novelist Michael Chabon's book jacket blurb, which envies the reader new to Nelson's work. She's a treat … In Bound, Nelson teaches us that we may not always have to choose between naughty or nice, polished or rough, that perhaps we're most ourselves when we're a little of both.” —Kansas City Star

“[Nelson] shines once again in her depiction of the many guises of marriage, and family ties both strengthening and coming undone.” —Bookpage

“In her new novel Bound, set mostly in Wichita, KS, Antonya Nelson compels you to linger, makes you take in the shimmer of the long gray highway beside the strip malls, the promise and punishment of the steely blue sky. This America is her stage, and its characters are her people. Raised in Wichita, Nelson carries regional secrets in her internal map--the nameless back roads and hidden lakes a stranger wouldn't even know to look for…It's a liberation to read Nelson here in the long form. There is no question of her superlative gifts for the short story. Only last year she published an exceptional collection (her sixth), Nothing Right … In Bound, Nelson makes her story as big as it should be, and gives her characters room to run.” —New York Times Book Review

Bound is almost effortless to read--which is remarkable when one considers the number of complex relationships at work and the cutting truth with which each character is depicted…That a novel can accomplish so much in such tight space is otherworldly, and it speaks to Antonya Nelson's gift for writing great fiction.” —The Rumpus

“Nelson makes good use of the various meanings of bound, exploring what it means to be tied to someone, compelled to act, obligated.” —Time Out New York

“Gripping…An exploration of the delicate, painful connections among us… A veteran storyteller, Nelson nearly gets away with these devices, simultaneously dodging heavy-handedness, cliché, and preciosity… Nelson explores these connections and disconnects in understated, exact, and frequently witty prose.” —Boston Globe

“Antonya Nelson is a brilliant storyteller. With whip-smart prose, she describes the just-another- day-ness of our lives – the bad weather, the annoying neighbor who pretends to talk so they can look around your house, a dog's adoration of its owner and, most often, human fallibility – with precise candor and pathos. Bound, Nelson's 10th book of fiction and first novel in a decade, is magnificently dense, a solidity created by the depth she gives each of her memorably complex characters, a depth that in turn intensifies the emotional weight of her narrative…. Bound is one of those rare books that can be hilarious and snarky and heart-bruisingly moving all at once. Nelson's work feels brazenly honest because her characters' relationships are as richly textured and complex as our own. This familiarity makes Nelson one of the best writers of contemporary desire we have.” —Dallas Morning News

“Nelson is a remarkable writer…this is a wonderful collection of characters, deftly drawn and expertly unveiled.” —Slate

“Suspenseful and emotionally resonant.” —NY Daily News

“This deft tale of messy, modern family life crackles with truth and originality...Nelson has a gift for sharply etched characters and dazzling lyrical prose.” —People

“In her stories and novels, Antonya Nelson peers into the lives of her characters so closely that the intimacy borders on uncomfortable. And she does it with her typically spare, piercing writing, creating full characters with a just a few well-chosen words. We don't know much about what these people look like (not that it matters), but we know their joys and longings and dark secrets. "Bound," her exquisite latest novel, focuses on the connections people have throughout their lives: long-ago connections that resurface, family connections in the present, connections to times and places. Nelson has crafted overlapping lives and stories that don't fit neatly into a box, but somehow pack perfectly into the novel… Even Nelson's seemingly simple characters have depth and complexity.” —Wichita Eagle

“One pleasure of reading Antonya Nelson is that she brings the careful language and control of literary fiction to uncontrolled, rough-and-tumble lives. Mixing the admittedly bourgeois undertaking of meticulously crafted prose with working class grit is risky -- it can devolve into condescension or cartoonishness -- but Nelson, like Raymond Carver, strikes a remarkable balance.” —Los Angeles Times

Bound examines the powerful pull of family, the value of loyalty, and the surprisingly durable bonds of friendship. Told in nuanced prose, Bound has all the suspense of a mystery novel balanced by the soulful characterizations and piercing psychological insights of a literary work.” —Critical Mob

“A quiet character study of the bonds of family and friendship, at times fragile and at others strong as steel. Nelson plumbs the interior lives of a small but intriguing collection of characters, probing for some understanding of these often inexplicable ties…Though some writers who concentrate on short stories suffer in the longer form, Nelson adapts the skills she's displayed in six collections to great effect here. Her characterizations are carefully etched, and her prose is precise and razor-sharp…Nelson has carved out some generous slices of a handful of lives and has served them up to us in all their messy complexity. There are no fireworks here, only the light shed by an accomplished writer's unblinking attentiveness.” —Book Reporter

“In her extraordinary fourth novel, Antonya Nelson captures the clamor and swirl of life in this new century… she pulls the tension to a flawlessly calibrated conclusion.” —NPR.org

“Good ingredients, quirky recipe.” —Newsday

“Nelson illuminates the ugly questions that shadow our intimate relationships.” —New Yorker

“Antonya Nelson considers the ties that bind in her canny --and aptly named--new novel ‘Bound'… [Bound] seems, on the face of it, a simple, if improbable, story. But it is one that, in Nelson's deft hands, soon becomes a small study of humankind…'Bound' overall is so rich in characters, poetry and imagination… But it is at relationships -- close, domestic relationships -- that [Nelson] excels.” —Buffalo News

“Her sentences are the kind you want to savor for their rhythms and insights… This is the stuff of great fictional domestic life in the right hands, and Nelson's definitely dead on…Nelson explores the things that bind us to one another and our pasts with astute observations and emotional honesty…[A] richly created and very rewarding story.” —WOSU.org

“The web of entaglements could be sketched out in a schematic diagram, yet the events roll along so effortlessly, propelled by plainspoken, naturalistic prose, that the symbolism never grows overbearing or obvious… Nelson, it seems to me, should be praised for her adroitness with language, her ability to sketch out a scene or a moment or point of view with a few carefully-chosen words. In the old days, there was a name for that: it was called ‘good writing.'” —Popmatters

Library Journal
In this captivating novel of complicated relationships, award-winning author Nelson (Nothing Right) explores the ties that bind us. Childless Catherine is surprised to discover that she is the guardian of her high school best friend Misty's teenage daughter, Cattie, after Misty dies in an automobile accident. Catherine's much older husband, Oliver, who has already suffered the dramas of two daughters from two previous marriages, is more interested in his young mistress and his looming 70th birthday. In the meantime, Cattie has run away from her Vermont boarding school with a disturbed soldier and a litter of puppies. When Catherine leaves home to find Cattie, Oliver is left to tend to Catherine's intimidating mother, whose stroke has left her blessedly speechless. Shadowing these events is the serial killer who has resurfaced after decades to haunt this Kansas town. VERDICT In this delightful blend of extraordinary circumstances and ordinary suburban life, Nelson beautifully and humorously exposes the deep connections among these characters. An outstanding voice and an exceptional novel; essential reading. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/10.]—Joy Humphrey, Pepperdine Univ. Law Lib., Malibu, CA
Kirkus Reviews

From novelist and short-story writer Nelson (Nothing Right, 2009, etc.), a brief, sorrowfully comic novel about family dysfunction that considers everyone's contribution—parents, children, spouses, even pets.

Driving alone with her dog, Misty Mueller is in a one-car accident. The dog escapes the overturned car and is adopted by a young woman camping nearby, but Misty, a single mother, dies. When her 15-year-old daughter Cattie gets the news, she runs away from her Vermont prep school. After hiding briefly in Montpelier, she sets off on a cross-country road trip with a troubled but sweet-natured Army deserter and his dogs. In Wichita, Kan., Misty's childhood friend Catherine has completely lost touch with Misty. In her late 30s now and married to Oliver, a successful, much older entrepreneur with two grown daughters from previous marriages, Catherine is oblivious when Oliver follows the pattern he previously established to exit his first two marriages by beginning an affair with an even younger woman. Without children of her own or a real career, Catherine expends her energy caring for her mother Grace, a former professor who has suffered a stroke. Grace's mental acuity remains intact despite her inability to speak, and she remains hurtfully critical of her daughter's passivity and lack of ambition. Then Catherine learns that she has been named Cattie's guardian and searches her out. Once Catherine finds Cattie, their relationship evolves by sharing memories of Misty. To Cattie, Misty was a tough-minded single mom who provided well for her daughter. Catherine remembers their wild adolescence together: Catherine the rebellious bourgeois, Misty the white-trash girl with no future; while they took risks with drugs and sex, a serial killer remained on the loose nearby. Now, as Catherine eases into the role of her namesake's guardian, the same killer has resurfaced, and the news surrounding his banal evil creates the backdrop/counterpoint to the characters' growing understanding of their places in the world.

A small gem—more understated than Nelson's recent stories, but equally sharp and deeply moving.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608193004
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
10/05/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
836,042
File size:
917 KB

Read an Excerpt

BOUND

a novel
By ANTONYA NELSON

Bloomsbury

Copyright © 2010 Antonya Nelson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-59691-575-6


Chapter One

The dog had two impulses. One was to stay with the car, container of civilization, and the other was to climb through the ruined window into the wild. Wait with the woman, or dash toward the distant rushing water?

The woman hung suspended, patiently bleeding, barefoot, allover powdered by deployed airbag dust, one palm open like a forget-me-not in her lap, the other hand raised unnaturally high, as if thrown up to respond to a question, fingertips caught in the teeth of the ripped-open moon roof. A signal chimed, tiredly announcing that a door was not latched, or a passenger was not buckled, or a light had been left on, or that some other minor human infraction had been committed. The machine was made to attend to these. Additionally, the tape player played on, a man reading aloud. In other instances, recorded sound sometimes roused the dog's interest—animals on television or computer, the doorbell at home in Houston—but not this man's voice.

This was the car's third accident today. For nearly thirty years, its driver had not had an accident, not since high school. Then in one day: three. First a bashed bumper at the liquor store parking lot in El Paso, she and another woman backing out directly into one another. From above, it might have looked choreographed, perfect comic symmetry, a gentle jolt, the sudden appearance of a car bumper right where there hadn't been one in the rearview mirror. Or like film footage, run in reverse, people parking, unparking. This first accident, which had produced no problems, bumpers doing their jobs, had been in Texas, the next one in New Mexico, and the third in Colorado. The second accident, in New Mexico, was clearly the fault of the dog's owner. Headed north through a tiny town made of trailers, she'd run its only shot- blasted stop sign and been clipped by a westbound pickup. Its driver jumped furious from his cab, shouting and pugnacious before she'd even shifted into park. Her right taillight had been sheared off by his too-big tow bar. The dog would not stop barking at the angry man. For ten minutes the two drivers had had to circle and study their vehicles, the man venting his significant frustration, which took the form of rhetorical questions concerning the whereabouts of her mind, not to mention her driving barefooted.

"What are you, drunk?"

Hungover, the woman thought, but not drunk. She shook. Her response, often, was to retreat to silence. This had made her a formidable adult, although she'd been mistaken as sullen or dull-witted when she was young. The man finally convinced himself that he wasn't at fault, nor was his truck damaged. And he couldn't much care about an unpretty woman. The drivers left the scene of the accident without reporting it. The other cars that passed—both local and tourist gawkers—slowed but did not bother to stop, interested to know if the verbal antics would escalate into something truly entertaining, since clearly there'd been no carnage.

They wanted mayhem.

The dog had not ceased barking until her owner settled behind the wheel, slammed the door, blinked into the setting sun from behind sunglasses she had not removed, and turned over the engine. Then they were restored to their humming, air-conditioned peace. For miles, the woman talked to the dog as if to prove that she could, her hands trembling when she finally put in the first cassette of her borrowed book on tape. "Heart of Darkness," its narrator intoned, and thus began the story.

Now the dog was busy navigating a nervous figure eight between back seat and front, stepping gently past the gearshift, tightly circling the passenger seat, her tail inadvertently sweeping beneath the driver's upraised arm, near her hinged, leaking mouth, then squeezing once more over the gearshift, onto the back seat and into her metal kennel, which was intact, although upside down. There she made the motion of settling, albeit on the ceiling rather than the floor of her cage, hopeful that obedience would reinstate known order.

Obeying was her first instinct; she'd been performing these moves, tracing this circumscribed looping path, every minute or so, since the car had gone off the highway and down the cliff . She stepped from the kennel and shook in her abbreviated space, sat suddenly and awkwardly on her tail, like a bear or raccoon, and curled forward to lick at her belly, tempted once more by the sense of the fl owing stream beyond the car, yet dutiful to the woman inside. Far above, on the highway from which the car had fallen, a truck downshifted, straining against its own massive weight and force, roaring gradually by. The dog had been whinnying every now and then, an uneasy chatter in her throat, but now squared her front feet on the car console and barked close to the woman's head, teeth snapping unnaturally near the pink cheek flesh, tail waving with hope, anxiety. She had eyebrows, this dog, which gave her the appearance of intelligence, as if she could read minds or understand complicated speech. The woman was in the habit of talking to her. Certain words—Walk! Treat! Home!—as well as certain tones of voice inspired a reply. The dog barked again, as if to begin their usual exchange, taking the lead, and then again, insistently, demanding a response, even one of anger, then put her nose to the woman's temple, tasted the blood there, whimpered, her tail now swinging low, pendulum of shame. The man's voice, steadily reading. The other sound, the one she could more truly heed, that of the stream.

She stepped gingerly over the woman, dropped to the damp cool ground outside, stood for a moment with her nose to the air. Without its familiarities, the car evaporated from her attention, sucked into the overwhelming enormity of the rest of the world. She dashed headlong toward the water. Plunging in, she was startled by the current; she flailed and her eyes rolled, panicked and wild. She raised her neck, scrambled, and only occasionally, and only momentarily, found purchase on the rocks beneath. Down the stream she flew, borne on an icy journey, through a slight and shadowy canyon, her body thrown sideways around one bend, backward around another, her chest scraped lengthily over a jutting cluster of boulders in the last rapids, again and again her muzzle submerged and blasted, and then, finally, she was deposited into a still pool, a wide clearing where the water abruptly sprawled, stalled, where its temperature gradually rose, milder. On the banks, grazing deer.

The dog climbed out through tall saturated yellow grass, through dying pussy willows and stagnant silt, and onto a large flat red stone that still held the late-afternoon warmth from the sun. Here she lay panting, quivering. Her feet were tender and there was a new rip on her belly from the rocks. Wet, she showed her wolflike physique, the slender sneaky profile of her face, the alert damp fan of her tail. Her coloring was dark, her thick fur stippled, and her tongue mottled, like a chow's, but her slender skeletal underpinnings were those of a wild creature, fox or coyote, something nocturnal and sly. Her owner had liked that about her, the grateful and frightened girl whose appearance daunted, her loyalty and love that of something rescued from cruelty. She'd lived on garbage; she'd slept with her eyes open. She was strange looking, skittish, intimidated and intimidating. She answered to Max. On her neck she had worn a collar, but now it was gone, torn from her when the car flew off the mountain and rolled over the talus and into the trees below, or snatched away in the turbulent trip down the stream. In the flesh of her neck she had had a surgical procedure to install a microchip that identified her. Some shelters, some veterinarians, knew to scan lost animals for those. Some didn't.

She lay on the rock, cleaning her wound, her eyebrowed forehead nudging stubbornly, her teeth briefly bared so as to gently pull, precise as tweezers, at something in her fur. Glass, perhaps; it had left tiny cuts on her tongue before she'd begun nipping it out with her teeth. She paused to glance around, holding absolutely still— water, trees, wind, diving swifts and wary deer, gathering night. She had undomesticated origins; the dark did not worry her.

Upstream at least two miles, a man's voice continued reading sonorously, as it had for an hour now, a curiously old- fashioned voice, overly dramatic, an actor from the continental school, reciting for the third time the opening chapters of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The tape reversed; the story continued, repeated. The car's driver had been trying to improve her mind. Through New Mexico she had been listening to National Public Radio, and had been fascinated to hear yet another installment of a story from her old hometown, from her own long-ago adolescence, where a serial killer, dormant for de cades, had once again been taunting the media, a killer who'd hovered on the periphery of her formative years, his first victims having been neighbors of hers. Strangers, newcomers, but neighbors, nonetheless. Their house, a few doors down from hers, with the precise same floor plan; her uncle, who lived with her then, had been among the many men in the neighborhood initially considered a suspect. Fingerprinted, interrogated, eyed uneasily. Until the killer struck again, elsewhere, they'd all been wary of one another in the vicinity of Edgemoor and Murdock streets. Now the radio said he had made another public overture; he'd been doing it on and off for the last few months. The woman felt a prickling pride in being from the city where he'd killed people, the curious emotion of by-proxy notoriety.

Only after the radio signal fizzled completely, somewhere within the Navajo Nation, just after her second accident, had she been reduced to the book on tape. It was an effort to attend to the story, its teller so sinister with foreshadowing gloom, its language archaic, the syntax unnecessarily convoluted. Plus, she kept suffering the surprising sensation of the truck, from nowhere, jarring her when he clipped her car, a recurrent jolt thereafter, a flash of heat in her sternum, her bare foot leaping briefly from the pedal.

Her daughter was reading this book. She attended boarding school in the East, and the driver, the mother, wished to impress the girl, come Christmas. She wanted badly to make up for what she'd not taken seriously, earlier in her life, which was also what she was now, against intense teenage resistance, insisting that her daughter take seriously.

Affording tuition, fifteen-year-old Cattie had let her know after orientation, did not put them in the same class as her classmates. "Give it a shot," the mother had said. "That's all I'm asking."

"Okay," said Cattie. "But I don't want to."

The car in which the woman had been traveling, the car she'd handled so heedlessly today, was an expensive one, its interior designed to protect its passengers no matter the external damage, the vehicle boasting its own protective cage. Two months ago it had delivered her and Cattie to Vermont, to the quaint village that held the esteemed school. The mother had driven back across the country alone, then, alone and lonely; she'd taken this trip out of loneliness, too, but in the opposite direction, and without particular destination. She and the dog had traveled across Texas yesterday, stopping in El Paso for the night. Tempted after a few drinks, she'd refrained from dialing her daughter's cell phone; she'd made that mistake the last time she called Vermont. Then today, sober, she couldn't think what she'd say to the girl.

She'd crossed the state of Texas yesterday as if to be done with it; today she appeared to have the same agenda with New Mexico, traveling through and out of the rocky desert, So long!, and into Colorado, climbing above 7,000 feet, passing signs announcing the Continental Divide, ascending. The temperature had ranged from 95 to 26 degrees in the course of the journey, its decline in direct proportion to the car's progress north, and up.

Maybe she would make it her mission to drive through every state, say good-bye to each as she exited.

The animal had yipped when she caught the new air circulating in the cabin, wind that had passed over and brought with it glacier and pine, the scent of falling yellow leaves. She'd shoved her snout at the kennel's clasp, clicking her clever teeth at the latch, and her owner had reached back to free her, simultaneously cracking a back window so that the animal could further enjoy the mountain air, the car steered momentarily by knees. The dog wouldn't have perceived the Alpine vistas, the purple mountain tops iced with snow, blue spruce and blonde aspen. She might not have even registered the sharper curves, the way she slid on her padded bed inside the cage. Or she wouldn't have complained. But something in the air had alerted her, alarmed her, and she'd thrust her nose through the bars, madly licking the driver's hand. Frustrated, the woman had released her seat belt, and the car, always on call for such foolish maneuvers, sounded its nagging chime. The curve was no more dangerous than others, but there was neither shoulder nor railing, and the drop beside it precipitous. The mystery and whim of the highway engineers, who ran miles of sturdy guardrails in just such precarious places, and then without obvious reason, left a section open—opportunity, break, entry, and access to the yawning firmament.

The car had gone over without skid marks, directly into the lapse of barrier, then rolled longways, head to toe, rather than side to side. Its roof had peeled back on one revolution, and on the next, the windshield had landed in the driver's lap, a sheet of sparkling pebbles like chain mail. Her neck had been broken during the first tumble, her arm flung over her head by centrifugal force, the fingers snared by the sheered metal moon-roof rim. The dog had been saved by the doubleness of her enclosure: inside the kennel, inside the car's venerated metal egg. At the bottom of the hill, the vehicle landed on its wheels, finally at rest, not hidden from the highway but not in a location where anyone would be looking. After all, it was the peaks in the distance, the wide-shouldered majesty of Mounts Sunshine and Wilson, brilliantly snow-capped against the purple sky, somehow more vibrant than ordinary three-dimensionality, as if accompanied by the tonal shimmer of a clanged bell, there with a vague shrugging of bluing clouds, golden beams radiating as if from a godly crown, simmering red sun sinking behind. To encounter it was to shiver with plea sure and awe, overcome by beauty. Why would anyone glance down?

"That's not firewood, that's a tree," said the young woman to the young man who'd dragged his prize to their campsite.

"It'll last all night," he said. "It's huge." He grinned, baring his teeth. He'd dragged the tree by one of its tender speared ends, the heavy broken trunk creating a furrow behind. When he dropped it, he sniffed, frowning at his fingers.

"It's green. See, it just fell, it's got buds, it still bends." She illustrated by flexing a branch of the poor juniper back and forth like rubber. She did not say that this was more shrub than tree, that what he smelled on his fingers was the unique odor of its berries, which were edible, and which also, by the way, provided the source of his favorite liquor, gin. "Fires are made of dead wood. Dry dead wood." Her boyfriend hadn't wanted to go camping. He preferred bars and live music for weekend entertainment, sex on a queen-size mattress, in air-conditioning. Everything he'd done on their camping trip so far seemed like sabotage. Maybe he meant these efforts to be funny? He had a strange sense of humor, which had originally attracted Elise to him. He carried his lunch in an iron pail better suited to a factory worker from the forties, Mr. Wannabe Tool and Die. His only shoes were thrift-store Florsheims, his hat a fedora. Now he lit a joint and sat uneasily on his springy tree.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from BOUND by ANTONYA NELSON Copyright © 2010 by Antonya Nelson. Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Antonya Nelson is the author of eight books of fiction, including Female Trouble and the novels Talking in Bed, Nobodys Girl, and Living to Tell. Nelsons work has appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, Harpers, Redbook, and many other magazines, as well as in anthologies such as Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards and The Best American Short Stories.
She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA Grant, and,
recently, the Rea Award for Short Fiction. She is married to writer
Robert Boswell and lives in New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas, where she
holds the Cullen Chair in Creative Writing at the University of Houston.
Antonya Nelson is the author of eight books of fiction. Her works include Female Trouble and the novels Talking in Bed, Nobodys Girl, and Living to Tell. Nelsons work has appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, Harpers, Redbook, and in many other magazines, as well as in anthologies such as Prize Stories, the O. Henry Awards, and Best American Short Stories. Her books have been New York Times Notable Books of 1992, 1996, 1998, and 2000. The New Yorker called her one of the "twenty young fiction writers for the new millennium." She is also the recent recipient of the Rea Award for Short Fiction and is a recipient of an NEA Grant 2000-01 and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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Bound 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a waste of my valuable time! Hard to follow and I most of the time I didn't care to follow because the characters brought out no feeling in me.
alexia561 More than 1 year ago
This book was very highly recommended to me. I'm always looking for a story that grabs me by the throat and won't let go, so was looking forward to reading this "guaranteed awesome" book! My verdict? Not bad, but not awesome either. The story followed several different characters and, as I read the majority of it during my lunch hour, it was a little confusing at times to keep track of everyone. Would have probably been easier if I'd read it straight through, but who has time to do that nowadays? Catherine and Oliver are a married couple, and I think they're supposed to be the main characters. There's also Catherine's mother, Catherine's childhood friend and her daughter, Oliver's children and ex-wives, Oliver's mistress, and another woman who I didn't figure out how she fit into the mix until the end of the book. All in all, a little confusing. The book starts off with Catherine's childhood friend dying in a car accident, and the ripple effects from the accident are felt by all of the other characters. Can't say that I really cared for any of the characters, as they were all a little unlikable. Not unlikable like evil bad guys, just unlikable as in flawed and/or weak. I think I liked the orphaned teenager Cattie the most, as she seemed the only one to have a backbone and any character. Gave this one a 3/5 as it was okay, just wasn't for me. Nelson is a talented writer and I had no complaints about the story structure or pacing or anything, I just didn't care for the characters or the plot. Think someone else might enjoy this more than I did.
bmamca36 3 months ago
Average
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For me, Bound is a profoundly worthwhile and uncomfortable book.  I was caught from the beginning, with the unique description of the crash, with the dog as our entry point. I was annoyed by the mother-daughter relationship described at the beginning, but, sticking it out, I was rewarded by more and more layers of love and connection revealed. The female characters seemed one-dimensional to me at the beginning, but, as their relationships with one another were more fully explored, and they were able to be more honest with each other and themselves, they came to life and even formed a sort of mirror to me. Not a comfortable mirror, but an important one, nevertheless. One editorial review complained that the various plays on the theme of binding and bonds "grows a little precious." I found that criticism catty and unfair. I don't recall any precious, overt, cutesy, or obvious play made upon that theme. The connections are for the reader to make, or not make. 
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Was really looking forward to reading this book but was very disappointed. It was very hard to follow. It went on and on without saying anything. Characters were confusing.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not wait to read this book. I made free time and a cup of tea and was ready for an evening of great reading. After 75 pages I was exhausted and still trying to figure out what the heck the author was trying to say. Every sentence goes on and on and says nothing. This is the first time I can say I have given up on a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was recommended in a magazine article. Sounded interesting, so I struggled for 2 weeks to read the thing (I'm usually a speey reader). I kept waiting for it to get better. I could not have cared less about the shallow characters. There was very little plot, and quite a few BIG plot points were left unresolved. The feel of the book was just very pretentious. No thanks.