Chatter: A Novelby Perrin Ireland
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Michael and Sarah's marriage is already in trouble. But the revelation that Michael has a daughter he's never mentioned—and only just met—pushes their relationship to the breaking point. His secrecy about the past, his compulsion to visit his ex-lover, and the sudden presence of his beautiful, grown daughter in their lives drives Sarah to search for the truth—a search that takes her from Washington, D.C., to Latin America.
Chatter is a snapshot of a marriage taken against the landscape of our frenetic culture, where invasive news reports, overheard conversations, and screaming headlines punctuate our days. Its dead-on dialogue captures the collapse of communication and the tension created when discussions go unfinished and questions go unanswered.
Balancing humor and terror, Ireland brilliantly depicts the elusiveness of security—globally and in our own homes—and the longing to find that safe place in a loved one's arms.
After a career at the NEA and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Ireland published her debut novel, Ana Imagined, in 2000, and follows it with this intriguing, sophisticated look at talk in marriage. Comfortable Bostonians Sarah and Michael are sorting out their childless 18-year marriage (the second for both) when Camila, a beautiful 30-something Latina, turns up claiming she's Michael's daughter. Michael, who already has a daughter from his first marriage, is "great-looking and mischievous and charming," but hot-tempered and uncommunicative about his past, including his Latin American Peace Corps stint. As the consequences of Michael's continued stonewalling spin out, he prepares to visit Camila's mother. Sarah, meanwhile, seeks comfort in the arms of a man she meets on a train. Ireland is less after their story than the ways Michael and Sarah communicate, a pointed staccato rife with missed connections, misdirection and blithe ignoring. That chatter is also bombarded from the outside by TV, radio, periodicals and other organs of the culture at large, often with complex effects-especially for novelist Sarah, and particularly given the pointedly post-9/11 setting. So while the plot is contrived and the characters honed to razor-thin dimensions, Ireland gets uncomfortably close to what people say about what they do. (Oct.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Having been married for 18 years, Bostonians Sarah and Michael have learned to adapt to each others' imperfections-namely, Sarah's persistent insecurities and Michael's secretive business trips. Hints of an immediate post-9/11 world-e.g., hotel evacuations, emptied restaurants, circling helicopters-brilliantly frame Sarah and Michael's world, which is tested when the beautiful young Camila lands amid their fragility, claiming to be Michael's daughter, conceived during his youthful Peace Corps days. Michael goes in search of Camila's mother, who may be able to help unravel the disappearance of Michael's old Peace Corps buddy, while Sarah dances along the edges of adultery with a man she meets on a train even as she begins her own search for Michael's long-lost friend. It's a lot to juggle, but Ireland (Ana Imagined), who keeps readers engaged even while making clear that not every question has an answer, is more than up to the task. Strongly recommended.
Beth E. Andersen
- Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
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- Barnes & Noble
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- 3 MB
What People are saying about this
"An extremely well-written novel that conceals its profundities so deftly that they insist on returning long after you have finished reading. A wonderful book."—Brian O'Doherty, Booker Prize finalist for The Deposition of Father McGreevy
"Smartly plotted and stylishly paced, Perrin Ireland's Chatter shows us just how the domestic and the political are entangled. The novel is alert with suspicion and heightened surmise; it gives us a bright Doppler reading of the way we live now."—Sven Birkerts
Smartly plotted anda stylishly paced, Perrin Ireland's Chatter shows us just how the domestic and the political are entangled . . .It gives us a bright Doppler reading of the way we live now. --Sven Birkerts
Ireland masterfully crisscrosses the public with the private to wring meaning from the simplest exchanges . . .Chatter is a consoling and hopeful novel in its vision of man's compassionate, resilient nature. --Christine Schutt, author of National Book Award finalist Florida
An extremely well-written novel that conceals its profundities so deftly that they insist on returnig long after you have finished reading. A wonderful book. --Brian O'Doherty, Booker Prize finalist
Meet the Author
Perrin Ireland is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Ana Imagined. Previously a senior program officer for the National Endowment for the Arts and an associate director for drama and arts for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, she divides her time between Boston, Massachusetts, and Charleston, South Carolina. For more information, see www.perrinireland.com.
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