Chilly Scenes of Winter

( 2 )

Overview

This is the story of a love-smitten Charles; his friend Sam, the Phi Beta Kappa and former coat salesman; and Charles' mother, who spends a lot of time in the bathtub feeling depressed.

An extraordinary novel about the children of the 60's trying to make it in the 70's.

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Chilly Scenes of Winter

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Overview

This is the story of a love-smitten Charles; his friend Sam, the Phi Beta Kappa and former coat salesman; and Charles' mother, who spends a lot of time in the bathtub feeling depressed.

An extraordinary novel about the children of the 60's trying to make it in the 70's.

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Editorial Reviews

John Updike
"Chilly Scenes falls beautifully...(Beattie's) style builds around as a maze of familiar truth that nevertheless has something airy, eerie, and in the end lovely about it." -- The New Yorker
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679732341
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/1991
  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries Series
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 515,801
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.97 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann  Beattie
Ann Beattie
To many readers, Ann Beattie was the diarist for a whole cross-section of American society. Wryly chronicling the confusion and disillusionment of a generation stuck with the free-love era's hangover, the prolific short story writer and novelist set the tone for coming of age in the '70s and after.

Biography

After publishing several stories in The New Yorker, Ann Beattie burst on the literary scene in 1976 with not one, but two books -- a collection of short fiction entitled Distortions and a critically acclaimed debut novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter. Almost immediately, she was proclaimed the unofficial diarist of an entire generation, evoking the lives of feckless, young, middle-class baby boomers who came of age in the 1960s yet never really grew up, choosing instead to lug around their dashed expectations like so much excess baggage.

Indeed, Beattie's fiction is filled with such unhappy characters -- intelligent, well-educated people whose lives are steeped in disappointment and a vague sense of despair. Failed relationships, nostalgia for the past, and the inability to reconcile youthful idealism with the demands of adult life are recurring themes in short story collections like Secrets and Surprises (1978), What Was Mine (1991), and Park City (1998), as well as novels such as Falling in Place (1981), Love Always (1985), and Another You (1995).

Yet, Beattie vehemently denies that she set out to chronicle an era or to describe a particular demographic. ''I do not wish to be a spokesperson for my generation,'' she told The New York Times in 1985. She explained further (in the literary magazine Ploughshares) that she simply wrote about the people who surrounded her -- refugees from the '60s, bewildered by the real world and longing to return to the seductive counterculture of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.

A writer of spare, elegant, whip-smart prose, Beattie has been classified as a minimalist, a label she rejects as reductive. In many ways, though, her writing fits the bill. Her stories, like those of minimalism's famous poster boy (and Beattie's good friend) Raymond Carver, are composed of simple, declarative sentences teeming with irony and finely observed detail; also like Carver, she is a nonjudgmental narrator, completely detached from her characters and their actions and meting out contextual clues to be interpreted by the reader. However, as she has matured as a writer, she has traded in strict minimalism for a more realistic style, endowing her characters with emotions (and something of an inner life!) and rendering her fiction more fully "human."

Occasionally, Beattie has come under attack for loading her stories with brand names and pop culture references. But even this use of "Kmart realism" seems not to have dimmed her light. Reviewing her 2008 anthology Follies for The New York Times, David Means had this to say: "[W]hen Beattie's work is clicking her stories are wonderful to behold. Her best work ... will endure long after so much of what we know now -- the brand names, television shows and quick-shop stores -- is gone."

Good To Know

Beattie's first novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter, was adapted into a film by Joan Micklin Silver starring John Heard and Mary Beth Hurt. It was first released in 1979 as Head Over Heels with an unsatisfying, tacked-on happy ending. Audiences were lukewarm. In 1982, the movie was re-released under the novel's title and with an ending that matched the book. This version was a success.

Beattie is married to the painter Lincoln Perry. In 2005 the two collaborated on a retrospective of Perry's paintings entitled Lincoln Perry's Charlottesville, boasting a long essay and interview by Beattie.

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    1. Hometown:
      Maine and Key West, Florida
    1. Date of Birth:
      September 8, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B.A., American University, 1969; M.A., University of Connecticut, 1970

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2008

    excellent tale of obsessive love

    I first discovered this book after watching the Joan Micklin Silver film, 'Head Over Heels.' 28 years later, it still remains an astute paean to obsessive love. Even at 17, I completely identified with Charles' desperate attempts to win back his ex-lover, Laura. A poignant look at the 60s generation struggling with the ennuii of the mid-seventies. Now if only the movie would arrive on DVD, replete with writer/director commentary.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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