Mrs. Somebody Somebody: Fiction

Overview

In this astonishing debut, Tracy Winn poignantly chronicles the souls who inhabit the troubled mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts, playing out their struggles and hopes over the course of the twentieth century. Through a stunning variety of voices, Winn paints a deep and permeating portrait of the town and its people: a young millworker who dreams of marrying rich and becoming “Mrs. Somebody Somebody”; an undercover union organizer whose privileged past shapes her cause; a Korean War veteran who returns to the ...
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Mrs. Somebody Somebody

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Overview

In this astonishing debut, Tracy Winn poignantly chronicles the souls who inhabit the troubled mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts, playing out their struggles and hopes over the course of the twentieth century. Through a stunning variety of voices, Winn paints a deep and permeating portrait of the town and its people: a young millworker who dreams of marrying rich and becoming “Mrs. Somebody Somebody”; an undercover union organizer whose privileged past shapes her cause; a Korean War veteran who returns to the wife he never really got to know—and the couple’s overindulged children, who grow up to act out against their parents; a town resident who reflects on a long-lost love and the treasure he keeps close to his heart. Winn’s keen insight into class and human nature, combined with her perfect, nuanced prose, make Mrs. Somebody Somebody truly shine.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Deeply satisfying, subtle, intelligent, and beautifully crafted . . . Tracy Winn writes with clarity and keen perception; her stories come together like a mosaic to create a compelling, deeply textured world.”—Kim Edwards, author of The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
 
“A rare achievement . . . Winn’s characters struggle with unexpected losses and damaging habits . . . always questioning the hard truths that hold them in place.”—Atlantic Monthly
 
“When characters are brought to life with such vibrant nuance, they continue to live far beyond the page.”—Thisbe Nissen, author of Osprey Island
 
“Fans of literary fiction will savor Winn’s powerful debut.”—People, four stars
 
“Excellent . . . high on the list of must-read story collections.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
Publishers Weekly

Winn's excellent debut collection centers on Lowell, Mass., as it evolves from a booming mid-century mill town to its scrappy contemporary incarnation. What remains constant are the characters, who cycle through the stories as they age, etched memorably by Winn, who nails a diverse swath of American life over some 60 years. In the title story, Stella Lewis navigates through often dicey situations at Hub Hosiery, a factory where she makes a close friend and learns the power of union allegiances. In "Blue Tango," lovesick Dr. Charlie Burroughs, a Korean War vet, returns to his wife; in the following story, "Glass Box," Winn portrays the marriage from Charlie's wife's perspective. Later, Winn checks in on the next generation of the Burroughs family, mired in frustration and longing. We also get to know factory workers and families affected by wars-from Korea to Iraq. Though Winn's prose sometimes gets away from her, her firm command of narrative and her ability to evoke emotion puts this high on the list of must-read story collections. (Apr)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812981452
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/8/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 850,239
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Tracy Winn earned her MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers and has had stories published in New Orleans Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Western Humanities Review, among other venues. She works with Gaining Ground, a local nonprofit farm that gives its produce to local shelters and meal programs. She lives near Boston with her husband and daughter.
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Table of Contents

Mrs. Somebody Somebody 1

Blue Tango 49

Glass Box 61

Gumbo Limbo 79

Smoke 97

Another Way to Make Cleopatra Cry 105

Frankie Floats 119

Copper Leaves Waving 131

Cantogallo 145

Luck Be a Lady 165\

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Reading Group Guide

1. Which of the characters in this book do you identify with most? Why? Which characters would you want to spend more time with?

2. A character from one story often reappears in another, as do objects such as the red-striped music box. How do the reappearances of characters and things affect your emotional response and add to the layers of meaning in both the original story and the stories in which the repetition appears?

3. Do you think the author is presenting an optimistic, pessimistic, or realistic view of the world? What specifi c parts of the stories lead you to feel as you do? For example, how do you interpret the last line of the book?

4. In the title story, Stella says “Mrs. Somebody Somebody was exactly who I wanted to be. The way some kids grow up knowing they want to be mayor, want to have their name in the book of history, I wanted to wear a white dress and a ring that said I was taken care of ” (page 17). Why do you think Stella cares so much about marriage? What do you think of the shape her life took?

5. Why do you think Charlie stays with Delia? How would you say he changes over the course of the book?

6. If Stella Lewis had ever had the chance to meet Augustus Wetherbee, do you think she would have liked him?

7. What do you think Augustus Wetherbee wants in “Glass Box”?

8. Who would you say is putting doll shoes in and around Kaylene’s car, and why?

9. Children in this book fi nd themselves in diffi cult situations. Franklin wakes to a dinner party in “Smoke.” Kaylene tries to keep track of Dawn’s money in “Another Way to Make Cleopatra Cry.” Izabel Tiago has trouble with a rooster in “Cantogallo,” and Helen makes a phone call in “Copper Leaves Waving.” Do you consider any of these children heroic?

10. What do you make of the language Kaylene uses to tell her story in “Another Way to Make Cleopatra Cry”? Is she simply a bratty kid with a lip on her?

11. Are the immigrants in “Cantogallo” different from those in “Mrs. Somebody Somebody”? How?

12. Though the stories are independent, there are several themes that link them all. What do you think those themes are?

13. Do you think these stories could have taken place anywhere other than Lowell? Other than the Northeast as a whole? Why?

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