Keeper and Kid

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Overview

“A fine, fetching novel with a good heart . . . a tribute to the author’s endless comic inventiveness.” —Stewart O’Nan, author of Songs for the Missing

Three years after his divorce, James Keeper is enjoying his new job selling antiques at a quirky shop. His new love, Leah, is intriguing and passionate. Business is steady and Keeper’s friends always turn up for Card Night. But one phone call from his former mother-in-law changes it all.

Days ...

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Keeper and Kid: A Novel

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Overview

“A fine, fetching novel with a good heart . . . a tribute to the author’s endless comic inventiveness.” —Stewart O’Nan, author of Songs for the Missing

Three years after his divorce, James Keeper is enjoying his new job selling antiques at a quirky shop. His new love, Leah, is intriguing and passionate. Business is steady and Keeper’s friends always turn up for Card Night. But one phone call from his former mother-in-law changes it all.

Days later, Keeper comes away with a son he never knew he had. Immediately, life takes on a new meaning. As he and Leo adjust to the shock of each other and their suddenly altered lives, Keeper begins to let in the people in his life—by turns strange and heartwarming; funny and painful. A coming of age story for the guy who thought he had already grown up, this novel is a sharp and witty account of what we do for love.

“One of the most enchantingly realistic tots in recent fiction. We don’t know whether to keep turning the pages or dive into them and offer to help babysit.” —The Boston Globe

Keeper and Kid is a marvel. I dare you. Open this book and try to put it down.” —Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle

“At once immensely engaging and about the things that matter most: how we love, how we move on, how the past moves with us. Lovely, wise, and surprising.”

—Elizabeth Graver, author of The Honey Thief

“It isn’t merely ‘amusing,’ it is downright funny . . .[Hardy] creates characters so eccentric and endearing you’ll be sorry to see the last of them.” —Statesman Journal (Salem, Oregon)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this very funny but slight second novel, Hardy imbues the familiar cool-dude-suddenly-saddled-with-a-little-dude-he-didn't-know-existed plot with enough giggle-worthy humor about 30-something quasibohemian life to make it more than a Nick Hornby also-ran. Jimmy Keeper is divorced from Cynthia, a pastry chef with a penchant for secrecy; he runs an antiques salvage business in Providence, R.I., and lives in a tiny house with girlfriend Leah, a self-assured architect. But after Cynthia falls gravely ill and summons him to the hospital, Keeper's carefully constructed, somewhat man-boyish life is destined for disruption. It turns out that he and Cynthia have a three-year-old son, Leo, the secret product of a final pre-Leah fling. In due course, the boy lands in Keeper's care, and Leah flees. Will Keeper be able to successfully take care of Leo? Will Leah be able to love Keeper despite the addition of a child not her own? Because Keeper is a companionable narrator (he's a dude's dude who likes beer, sex and playing cards, and yet is aware of his propensity for emotional stupidity), the quest for these answers is a fun if predictable jaunt. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

James Keeper has it made. He and Leah, his beautiful architect girlfriend, are blissfully happy after their respective, painful divorces; they have just bought a small house in Providence, RI, and Keeper and childhood chum Tim run a salvage/antiques business. Then one phone call wipes out this balanced world. Keeper's ex-wife's family informs him that Cynthia is dead and that three-year-old Leo, the product of a brief, postdivorce encounter, is Keeper's to raise. Completing the destruction of his stress-free, neatly ordered life are Keeper's twin character flaws-his inability to face or trigger confrontation and his reluctance to ask for help. As caring for the extraordinarily verbal, deeply resilient, seriously traumatized Leo further derails Keeper's ability to manage, Leah bails. Keeper thinks he is now alone as he struggles mightily to craft a life for Leo that creeps slowly toward loving security. Hardy (Geyser Life) took a risk naming his protagonist Keeper but wisely leaves any underlying messaging to his readers, instead bringing them along for a wonderful journey of thoughtful, reluctant fatherhood. Highly recommended.
—Beth E. Andersen

School Library Journal

In this very funny but slight second novel, Hardy imbues the familiar cool-dude-suddenly-saddled-with-a-little-dude-he-didn't-know-existed plot with enough giggle-worthy humor about 30-something quasibohemian life to make it more than a Nick Hornby also-ran. Jimmy Keeper is divorced from Cynthia, a pastry chef with a penchant for secrecy; he runs an antiques salvage business in Providence, R.I., and lives in a tiny house with girlfriend Leah, a self-assured architect. But after Cynthia falls gravely ill and summons him to the hospital, Keeper's carefully constructed, somewhat man-boyish life is destined for disruption. It turns out that he and Cynthia have a three-year-old son, Leo, the secret product of a final pre-Leah fling. In due course, the boy lands in Keeper's care, and Leah flees. Will Keeper be able to successfully take care of Leo? Will Leah be able to love Keeper despite the addition of a child not her own? Because Keeper is a companionable narrator (he's a dude's dude who likes beer, sex and playing cards, and yet is aware of his propensity for emotional stupidity), the quest for these answers is a fun if predictable jaunt. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
A junkman who forgot to grow up inherits an unusual forget-me-not from his ex-wife. At 36, Jimmy Keeper has baggage, both real and metaphysical. Keeper's job at the Providence antique shop requires him to scour New England for treasure. His current relationship, with Leah, a whirling dervish and budding architect who's still uncertain of her affections, is slowly evaporating. Once married to Cynthia, he let the marriage slip away over a fight about money. Only the occasional romantic interlude, for old time's sake, marked its passage. Then Cynthia dies suddenly and Keeper's world unravels with the surprise introduction of a three-year-old son, Leo, he never knew he had. Now the junkman really has his hands full, wrestling the bright but nearly feral child, who, in his grief over the loss of his mother, has taken to biting and hiding his father's things. Abandoned by Leah and exasperated by his son, the reluctant father starts to confront his own sense of self, in fits and starts. "I was slowly rounding the corner to realize I wasn't the guy I'd always imagined myself to be," he says. With help from Cynthia's flinty sister Grace and a good old-fashioned kick in the pants from his parents, Keeper starts to accept that his new life may be worth living after all. A rambunctious story from Hardy (Geyser Life, 1996) that portrays the graceless experience of child-rearing with honesty and good humor.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312375249
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/8/2008
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 8.26 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Hardy is the author of the novel Geyser Life, grew up in Ithaca, has an MFA from Cornell, and has published stories with Ploughshares, GQ, Witness, the Quarterly, the Massachusetts Review, and other literary magazines. His work has been included in The Best American Short Stories, and he lives in Rhode Island.

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Read an Excerpt


Keeper and Kid

A Novel

By Hardy, Edward Thomas Dunne Books
Copyright © 2008
Hardy, Edward
All right reserved.


ISBN: 9780312375249

Chapter 1
If dogs, rats, and pigs can all sense a looming earthquake and make plans, how come all I can manage is a quick stare at the phone just before it rings? I was at work, wishing for another cup of coffee. It was 9:32 and they were playing Big Maybell on WRIU’s Hard Boiled Jazz show, at some other Cynthia’s request, so her name was already in the air. There was no one else in the shop. Just me, searching the Web to gauge how much the prewar Lionel trains and rolling stock in the box at my feet might be worth.
On the second ring I picked up and said, “Love and Death,” as that’s the shop’s name. It’s one half of this antique store salvage yard empire that my middle-school buddy Tim asked me to come down to Providence and help run. That was four years ago, shortly after everything in Boston spun apart.
“Jimmy?” It was Joan, Cynthia’s mom and my ex-mother-in-law. My shoulders hiked because everybody here calls me something else. To Tim, I’m Keeper, my last name. Leah, my girlfriend, calls me Keeper, too, but she’s working on making the switch to James.
“Joan? How did—”
“I called Tim at home, which was Cynthia’s idea.” Usually Joan sounded like the high school vice principal she used to be, but right then her voice felt thin, as if it were pushing out from under a rock. “Did youmove?” she asked. “Would a forwarding message have been so hard?” Her tongue made a click. “This will be a shock,” she said, “but Cynthia really is quite sick and I am not using that term lightly. She would like to see you. Today.”
My first thought, which I knew had to be wrong, was that Cynthia had a cold or bronchitis, pneumonia at the worst. Something you could solve with soup. Cynthia never got sick. She was one of those healthy-as-a-horse exemptions you’d expect to read about in some study. I used to think it was all that adrenaline, knocking off viruses right and left before they could get a toehold. “What do you mean sick?” I asked.
“Exactly what I said.” Joan’s tongue clicked again. “We’re at Mass General and she would like you to visit. Early afternoon is generally a good time for her.”
A heating oil truck downshifted on Wickenden Street. I closed my eyes.
“Jimmy,” Joan said, “Cynthia would like to ask a favor.” Even from an hour away I could tell that Joan didn’t like the idea of this.
I said, “What room?”
She hung up. I stared at the phone, examining the holes in the red handset the way everyone always does in the movies.
Mass General, I thought. Okay, I can find the room. And yes, it annoyed me that Joan wouldn’t say what had happened, but it wasn’t a surprise. I had already decided that whatever it was couldn’t be that bad. Cynthia was tough. Tougher than me by a factor of ten. Cynthia. All those days, and a lot of them, most of them, good enough to be scary. Even then, in certain moments it still felt like I had done something wrong.
The snow-amplified sun kept pushing through the windows, reflecting off the hairdressing shop’s plate glass across the street. Big Maybell kept on singing. I needed coffee. I still had the phone in my hand. It was still red. It felt like that night when I was ten, staring out my bedroom window when I should have been asleep, watching as the sky turned white because a meteor landed three states away and not knowing until the next morning what it was I’d seen. 
Copyright © 2007 by Edward Hardy. All rights reserved.


Continues...


Excerpted from Keeper and Kid by Hardy, Edward Copyright © 2008 by Hardy, Edward. Excerpted by permission.
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.
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Customer Reviews

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( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 29, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    This one is a KEEPER!

    KEEPER AND KID is an exceptionally poignant coming-of-age story with a twist or two depending on the reader¿s personal experiences and opinion. One twist is that the main character is a male who we witness ¿come of age¿ and the other is that this touching story is written by a male. Edward Hardy gives the reader a story that everyone will treasure and characters they will care about. <BR/><BR/>James Keeper is a man who is not exactly dependable and can scarcely take care of himself, but suddenly finds a great responsibility thrust upon him. At 36 years old, Keeper has divorced and gone on to build a rather carefree life in which he works with his best friend in an antique store, has a new love interest named Leah, and maybe his most crucial obligation each week is hosting the Sunday night card game with his friends. One phone call from his former mother-in-law changes James Keeper¿s whole world. <BR/><BR/>Keeper learns that his ex-wife Cynthia is very ill and he goes to see her in the hospital. Days later, he suddenly finds himself no longer a carefree bachelor but now in the role of responsible father of three-year-old Leo, the son that James never knew was his or even existed! Coping with fatherhood is much more than Keeper had even imagined. The reader will soon see that it isn¿t just Leo who grows up in this story. Time out may be something for Leo, but certainly there is no time `off¿ when you are the dad. Leo is demanding 24/7 and after a while, Leah even has had enough and leaves James to fend for himself with precocious Leo who is now legally Jimmy Keeper¿s son and responsibility.<BR/><BR/>Leo, who looks like his dad, has his certain childish quirks. James learns that beside Leo being a three year old who thinks he is really a bear, eats only round foods, and doesn¿t like to bathe, he is also displaying the depth of losing his mother in the way a child often will, through behavior. Dealing with the loss of his mother, Leo begins to soil his pants, hide things from others, and just become a bit bratty to punish other people as his way of dealing with the devastation he feels at losing his mom. <BR/><BR/>Leo forces Keeper to grow up and learn more about himself and those he cares for. James deals with Leo¿s fear of cats, amazing vocabulary, desire to stay up really late while still getting up very early, and in doing so, becomes Leo¿s father and a better man. The characters in the story are appealing and interesting so that one wants to root for them all. This is a heart felt story that can only make you smile as you read it. The love that comes from the pages of this book is palpable and is backed by the humor and pathos of the characters and thus makes this a must read for anyone who loves a character study, coming-of-age, and family story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2008

    Lovely Funny Novel

    This novel rings true in so many ways. From the wonders and hardships of raising a child for the first time to the ups and downs of relationships and their necessary compromises. Add to that a great humorous writing style that keeps you riveted and you've got a novel that is hard to put down until the terrific ending. I recommend this book for all new parents but also for anyone who wants a great read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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