Mystery Ride: A Novel

Overview

Robert Boswell, author of the highly acclaimed Crooked Hearts, has now written a thoughtful, funny, and penetrating portrait of a modern American family that explores the breaches and bonds between husbands and wives, parents and children, and introduces one of the most antic teenagers since Holden Caulfield. Dulcie is Southern California fifteen, rebellious and charming, willful and guileless - she can't stand her mother and thinks her father is a hick. She despises school, likes to get high, and enjoys making ...
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Overview

Robert Boswell, author of the highly acclaimed Crooked Hearts, has now written a thoughtful, funny, and penetrating portrait of a modern American family that explores the breaches and bonds between husbands and wives, parents and children, and introduces one of the most antic teenagers since Holden Caulfield. Dulcie is Southern California fifteen, rebellious and charming, willful and guileless - she can't stand her mother and thinks her father is a hick. She despises school, likes to get high, and enjoys making other people squirm in response to her pranks. Angela (Dulcie's mother) is approaching forty and feels her life spinning out of control. Her husband is having an affair and her daughter disappears at odd hours of the night. Exhausted with worry over just about everything, Angela decides to enlist the help of her ex-husband in dealing with Dulcie. Stephen, quiet and introspective, is still in love with Angela, but he has managed, slowly, to move on without her. When she calls to announce that she is driving Dulcie to the small Iowa farm - where the family began and after five years fell apart - Stephen becomes obsessed by what Angela's reaction will be to the house, which he has kept exactly the same since she left. Gently, imperceptibly, Boswell leads us into a maze of family dynamics where the reader is entranced and frequently surprised - and experiences flashes of recognition at every turn.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Boswell's memorable second novel, Crooked Hearts , about a dsyfunctional family, established his reputation on the literary scene. His next book, The Geography of Desire , was earnest but inchoate with his need to make a statement. This new work makes a brilliant return to the subject Boswell writes about with distinctive tenderness and humor: a marriage that has fractured, although the love husband and wife once felt for each other endures as a touchstone in their lives. The novel reflects Boswell's increasing maturity and wisdom; its characters--especially an exasperating teenager--are vivid and fresh, its truths poignant and penetrating. The ``Mystery Ride'' (from a Springsteen song) is marriage, and here is ``the almost inexhaustible mystery of love found and lost.'' Brimming with high ideals, Angela and Stephen Landis wed in the '60s and moved to a farm in Iowa, where their daughter Dulcie was born. Later, desperate for a life outside the confines of the farm and its small community, Angela left Stephen. She has remarried, and Dulcie is a rebellious, almost dangerously unstable adolescent when Angela returns to the farm for the first time in a decade to leave the fractious 15-year-old with her father. As Boswell cross-cuts among different events over a 20-year span, he draws a nuanced portrait of decent people striving to connect with each other. A fundamentalist Christian couple in the farm community is sketched with as much empathy as Angela's second, philandering husband and Stephen's understanding girlfriend. Boswell's compassion for his characters, his coherent control of motivation and plot, help him build to a series of tremendously affecting events, followed by Dulcie's quiet epiphany and an unforgettable ending. The dialogue has wit and energy, and the details of farm routine are rendered with impressive authenticity. Most important, the book is charged with insight, resonating with questions about how one leads a moral, fulfilling life and accepts the mystery of love. (Jan.)
Library Journal
Life, indeed, can be a mystery ride. Who can explain the bonds that hold us together when the odds so often seem stacked against us? The answer lies best in works by novelists like Boswell ( Crooked Hearts , LJ 6/1/87), whose latest effort focuses on an American family separated by time, distance, and generation. Angela Vorda and Stephen Landis have been divorced for ten years. Remarried, she lives and works in Los Angeles; single, with a live-in woman friend, he owns a small farm in Iowa. Their daughter, Dulcie, lives with her mother and suffers from more than the usual teenage angst. In an attempt to straighten out Dulcie, Angela arranges for her to spend the summer with Stephen. Struggling to adjust to these changed circumstances, both Dulcie and her father learn some important truths about life and love. Combining wisdom, humor, and poignancy in equal measure, this well-told tale inexorably draws in the reader. Highly recommended.-- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679412922
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/19/1993
  • Pages: 333
  • Product dimensions: 6.58 (w) x 9.54 (h) x 1.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Boswell
Robert Boswell

Robert Boswell is the author of five novels, two short-story collections, and a collection of essays. He teaches creative writing at New Mexico State University, the University of Houston, and in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program.

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