Fugitive Blue

Overview

Joanna Hirsch is an aspiring off-Broadway actress whose complex life has finally shattered. Having tried to normalize relations with her mother, Georgia, a world-renowned sculptress who left her family nearly twenty years before to pursue her art, Joanna unexpectedly learns that Georgia has flown again - this time from her SoHo loft in New York to the Umbrian mountains of Italy. Joanna's lover of the last ten years, theater director Nigel Easden, has also gone, leaving a goodbye note on top of a pile of ...
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1992 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. new, Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 246 p. Audience: General/trade.

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Overview

Joanna Hirsch is an aspiring off-Broadway actress whose complex life has finally shattered. Having tried to normalize relations with her mother, Georgia, a world-renowned sculptress who left her family nearly twenty years before to pursue her art, Joanna unexpectedly learns that Georgia has flown again - this time from her SoHo loft in New York to the Umbrian mountains of Italy. Joanna's lover of the last ten years, theater director Nigel Easden, has also gone, leaving a goodbye note on top of a pile of newspapers that contain scathing reviews of his most recent production. And Joanna's oldest and most complicated relationship, with her childhood friend Billy Overmeyer, has ended in random urban tragedy. Suddenly, Joanna is all alone. Fugitive Blue is a richly told story about a daughter's love for her brilliant and difficult mother. Lyrical and unflinching, this new novel by an author whose "language sings of Fitzgerald" (New York Times) takes Joanna Hirsch on a journey from her lonely suburban childhood to a life as forcibly created as one of her mother's sculptures: chiseled from the ashes, the wreckage of her past.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Shapiro ( Playing with Fire ) explores artistic motivations, selfishness and interdependence in this dark and lushly told tale. Her title refers to the Prussian blue paint favored by Picasso during his blue period, called ``fugitive'' because it eventually bleeds into and taints the colors around it. More broadly, the title hints at narrator Joanna Hirsch's sense of herself--she says that her months in the womb were ``the only time my mother felt that my existence was not erasing hers as surely as if my presence were a noxious, fugitive blue.'' Flashbacks reveal that when Joanna was 12, her mother fled their New Jersey home for a SoHo loft, forsaking the responsibilities of parenthood for greater freedom to pursue her art. Now 32 and an Off-Broadway actress, Joanna still craves her world-famous mother's acknowledgment, and she realizes that a similar dynamic of abandonment has shaped her relationships with men. Shapiro's resonant and complex storytelling earns the reader's full attention, as Joanna reassembles the shards of a broken mirror until at last it reflects a complete, if fragmented, portrait. BOMC selection. (Jan.)
Library Journal
The day before Joanna starts seventh grade, two things happen: her mother, Georgia Higgens Hirsch, leaves home to become a world-famous sculptor, and she meets Billy Overmeyer, a beautiful, sensitive boy who will become her best friend and, like her mother, an unattainable love of her life. Joanna, now 32 and a talented actress, recounts these events in a prose that is lyrical yet painfully honest. She remembers her father's sorrow and eventual second marriage to Billy's mother; her alcoholic liaison with Nigel, an aspiring director who leaves on the heels of her first success; and Billy's fatal beating before her eyes in Central Park. Always at the core is Joanna's aching need for her mother, a need that is finally realized when Georgia, who always claimed she needed no one, reaches out to her daughter for healing and love. An absorbing novel of complex relationships and basic needs. Highly recommended. BOMC selection.-- Donna L. Schulman, Cornell Univ. Libs., New York
Donna Seaman
Shapiro's first novel, "Playing with Fire" , tugged in two directions: fluff and literature. Her second is a strong, cohesive, and firmly dramatic work that entertains both viscerally and cerebrally. It is also one of the few novels that span a life and remain as compelling at the end as they were in the beginning. Joanna Hirsch's childhood, and innocence, is sacrificed to the needs of the people she loves: her artist mother, doctor father, and neighbor Billy. After her dashing, soon-to-be-famous mother flees New Jersey domesticity for a loft in New York City, her father marries Billy's mother. Becoming stepbrother and stepsister is not the true barrier to intimacy between Joanna and Billy: their love is thwarted by Billy's homosexuality. As Joanna grows up and channels her creative drive into acting, she tries to hold on to an increasingly troubled Billy and her overly reclusive mother. Shapiro sees through the veneer of glamour and success. Beauty conceals pain the way the trendiness of New York City conceals its vermin and violence and the accoutrements of adulthood conceal weakness and selfishness. This is a sophisticated and deeply felt story of fugitive love and the crucial instinct for survival and forgiveness.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385421072
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/19/1992
  • Pages: 256

Meet the Author

Dani Shapiro
Dani Shapiro
Dani Shapiro's honest, thought-provoking books -- from the bestselling memoir Slow Motion to stirring domestic dramas like Family History -- illuminate the meaning behind the seemingly everyday trials of "normal" lives. The Los Angeles Times touts her talents as an "abundantly emotional writer with a deep understanding of life’s banal blessings."

Biography

Dani Shapiro is the author of four acclaimed novels, Playing with Fire, Fugitive Blue, and Picturing the Wreck, and Family History, and the bestselling memoir Slow Motion. She teaches in the graduate writing program at The New School, and has written for The New Yorker, Granta, Elle, and Ploughshares, among other magazines. She lives with her husband and son in Litchfield County, Connecticut.

Author biography courtesy of Random House.

Good To Know

In out interview, Shapiro shared some interesting anecdotes about her life with us:

"One of the stranger things about me is that I was raised as an Orthodox Jew. I went to a yeshiva until I was thirteen years old, and spoke fluent Hebrew. I no longer can speak Hebrew, though I suppose it would come back if I immersed myself in it."

"I used to act in television commercials when I was a kid and a young adult."

"I've never had a ‘real job'. Well, that's not entirely true. I spent a week as an executive assistant at an advertising agency after I graduated from college -- it's the thing that propelled me back into graduate school, to get my M.F.A. And also, I sold cubic zirconia (fake diamonds) over the phone when I was in high school. Phone sales. Talk about rejection!"

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    1. Hometown:
      Bethlehem, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      April 10, 1962
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1987, M.F.A., 1989

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