Landscape with Fragmented Figures: A Novel

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Fiction. Betrayed by his art and disillusioned by his job as a professor, Ray Casper finds his long-time girlfriend has just left him. At the death of his estranged father, he links up with his out-of-work brother Sammy, and things really get complicated. Sammy moves in with Ray and needs a job; Ray needs inspiration to paint again, and both have to keep from killing each other. LANDSCAPE WITH FRAGMENTED FIGURES unites academia and working class in a tale of brothers, fathers and sons, art and love. It's a tale ...
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Overview


Fiction. Betrayed by his art and disillusioned by his job as a professor, Ray Casper finds his long-time girlfriend has just left him. At the death of his estranged father, he links up with his out-of-work brother Sammy, and things really get complicated. Sammy moves in with Ray and needs a job; Ray needs inspiration to paint again, and both have to keep from killing each other. LANDSCAPE WITH FRAGMENTED FIGURES unites academia and working class in a tale of brothers, fathers and sons, art and love. It's a tale of what it means for all of us to live in America in these times.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933964232
  • Publisher: Bottom Dog Press
  • Publication date: 1/9/2009
  • Series: Our Working Lives Series
  • Pages: 234
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Jeff Vande Zande is the author of three books of fiction. He was born and raised in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Rich in beauty, the Upper Peninsula is scarce in jobs, and in such an environment that Vande Zande's sensibilities about work took shape. Vande Zande's father was a college professor, yet many of his cousins and uncles worked in the iron ore mines. Often the talk around Vande Zande's family table was of layoffs and strikes at the mines. As a young boy Vande Zande was haunted by the palpable knowledge that having and fighting for a good job is an important thing. He came to understand this even more in his teenage years when he found and then lost his first job working at a small fast food restaurant, until the owner decided suddenly to close it. At sixteen, Vande Zande felt the rug of employment pulled out from under him and the experience of losing it has stayed with him. After graduating from college with a degree in English (without a teaching certificate), Vande Zande began the search for work again. He found it as a maintenance engineer in a hotel. Though he knew little about tools, a supervisor took him Zande under his wing, and taught him how to fix things and to work hard and with pride. Vande Zande returned to lower Michigan with his wife, Jennifer, after grad school. After working part-time at a few colleges and universities, he became a full-time professor at Delta College. He has a son, Max, and a daughter, Emerson. Vande Zande's life has been a mix of both working-class and academia, and this latest novel, LANDSCAPE WITH FRAGMENTED FIGURES, is a study and tribute to both. Jeff Vande Zande has spent most of his life in Michigan, where the talk is always of jobs, loss of jobs, and the beauty of the landscape. His books include a novel, Into the Desperate Country (March Street Press), a collection, Poems New, Used, and Rebuilds (March Street Press) and, also a short story collection, Emergency Stopping and Other Stories (Bottom Dog Press). He lives in Midland with wife, son, and daughter and teaches English and writing at Delta College.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 28, 2009

    Working-Class Lives in Contemporary Times

    This is a story of a working-class family in contemporary times...of losses and gains. Fine fiction for our times.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Cut Off form the Living World: Victim or Perpetrator?

    Jeff Vande Zande writes novels that creep up on the reader like a hint of a gloaming breeze on a stagnant summer evening. He understands the arid plain on which we walk, looking for some meaning or reason to keep living while refusing to remove our blinders. And just when his carefully constructed characters begin to resemble so closely those people around us to the point of wondering where the story is going, he has the gift to turn each of his Midwest 'tropes' into people of pulsating flesh and blood who just happen to lead each other, at times without knowledge of purpose, into levels of growth that drive them indelibly into our psyches.

    LANDSCAPE WITH FRAGMENTED FIGURES (the thoughtful title is not fully appreciated until the closing pages of this beautifully constructed, sensitive novel) deals with the terrain of Michigan and Ohio and those folks who live too far from the seas that connect this country to the world to see too far beyond their own disappointing lives. Ray Casper differed from his abusive father and was jolted by the death by cancer mother enough to move away from home and its factory existence atmosphere to pursue a career as an artist: and from this point the story could be interpreted as a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Failure. Ray has a brother Sammy whose life seemed predestined to copy his father's image of drunken ignorance of hope in the future. Ray has been following a line of failed relationships and even worse, failed inspirations as a painter and has just been deserted by Diane, the fellow artist lover who can no longer tolerate his inability to cope with his self absorption and loss of a sense of being alive, when Sammy calls and tearfully informs him of his estranged father's death. The two brothers, polar opposites in many ways, reunite and out of obligation, Ray invites Sammy to move into his Michigan home in hopes of repairing his alcoholic aimless brother. The differences between the minds of the two brothers drive both in directions of ever more sad situations, until through a series of events which include the return of pregnant Diane to the fold and a line of tragedies ultimately bring Ray back into the realm of seeing the world with the gifted eye of a painter.

    That is the brief outline of where this complex novel travels. What makes Vande Zande's writing so rich is his ability to explore the psyches of his characters while simultaneously educating the reader about art and about filial and life partner love and forgiveness. Phrases that color the pages follow: 'The sky is a giant canvas, the fireworks just a kind of temporary paint. Fugitive colors'; 'I haven't had a vision in a long time. I had a gimmick for awhile, which pretended to be a vision....But I'm starting to feel that's not enough...My art is vapid.'; 'You can't adopt somebody else's subconscious or their way to the subconscious. When it works, it's big. But it seldom works.'; 'Art cannot come from that which is not in the world.'; 'Mix visual with emotion and end up with art.'; 'You capture the truth about individuals you're painting, but then in that truth there is also universal truth...'. But even these brief quotations from Vande Zande's writing focus on only one aspect of this multilayered novel.

    In the end each reader will find personal paths to better understanding no

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