The New York Times
The Nightingales of Troy: Stories of One Family's Centuryby Alice Fulton
“Outstanding....Alice Fulton reveals herself to be triumphantly at home in the short story.”—Boston Sunday GlobeIn 1908, Mamie Garrahan faces childbirth aided by her arsenic-eating sister-in-law Kitty, a nun who grows opium poppies, and a doctor who prescribes Bayer Heroin. "In the twentieth century, I believe there are no saints/p>/em>
“Outstanding....Alice Fulton reveals herself to be triumphantly at home in the short story.”—Boston Sunday GlobeIn 1908, Mamie Garrahan faces childbirth aided by her arsenic-eating sister-in-law Kitty, a nun who grows opium poppies, and a doctor who prescribes Bayer Heroin. "In the twentieth century, I believe there are no saints left," Mamie remarks. But her daughters and granddaughter test this notion with far-reaching consequences. Kitty's arsenic reappears sixty years later in the hands of her distraught niece. A schoolgirl's passion for the Beatles and Melville—a passion both lonely and funny—shapes her life. Each decade is illuminated by endearingly eccentric characters: an anorexic waitress falls for a wealthy college boy in the jazz age...an exuberant young nurse questions science during the Depression...a homely seamstress designs a scandalous dress in the 1950s. The Nightingales of Troy, the first fiction collection by an acclaimed American poet, creates a vividly palpable sense of time and place. Alice Fulton's memorable characters confront the deepest dilemmas with bravery and abiding love.
The New York Times
These 10 linked short stories by MacArthur fellow Fulton track the lives of four generations of women from Troy, N.Y., where "love comes to die." The first story begins in 1908, and subsequent stories are spaced approximately a decade apart, creating a colorful patchwork of the 20th century. In "Happy Dust," a young mother, sick with a wasting disease and about to give birth, finds some relief in a mysterious potion given to her by a fallen nun. A waitress in "Shadow Table" is asked to make a birthday dessert for her lover's long-dead younger sister. In "The Real Eleanor Rigby" a girl infatuated with the Beatles and Herman Melville resolves to give the fab four her first edition of Typee, only to be upstaged by her domineering mother, who scores the two of them a brief private audience with the band. Fulton's strengths are in elaborate detail and delicate construction. And many stories also contain moments of blunt violence and unthinking cruelty, providing the tension at the heart of a book that's rich with feeling for its characters yet willing to expose their faults. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Set in Troy, NY, this debut novel by acclaimed poet Fulton uses ten linked stories to show how the Garrahan women have struggled with triumph and tragedy over a century. Mamie Flynn Garrahan has five children before she is 30. Her daughter Annie becomes a nurse during the Great Depression, running a clinic in a hotel. Daughter Edna reveals that she's been sending unsigned birthday cards to her sister Charlotte, hoping she'll believe that they are from a former lover. Decades later, Annie's daughter Ruth takes a trip to New York City with her mother and a girlfriend, and they happen upon a hotel press conference for the Beatles. While Ringo, John, George, and Paul hold court for a crowd from their hotel room sofa, Annie accidentally licks an "I Still Love the Beatles" sticker, only to find out that John's creativity medicine was on the back of the sticker. Her response? "I'm a registered nurse, and I have never heard of any medicine being administered on a sticker." A delightful blend of history and storytelling, recommended for all public libraries.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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Meet the Author
Alice Fulton’s honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. Fulton is the Ann S. Bowers Professor of English at Cornell University and lives in Ithaca, New York.
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