Nod

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Overview

In Nod, her ninth book of fiction, American novelist and poet Fanny Howe explores sibling rivalry within a family that, in the wake of World War II, is both disintegrating and stumbling into the terrible, dark adulthood of the latter half of the Twentieth Century. Yet for all of the dark forces at work in Howe's novel, she presents also a world of wonder, of sexual awakenings interlinked with the Irish countryside and culture in which the girls grow up, the strange stories and myths they hear from the Norwegian ...
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Overview

In Nod, her ninth book of fiction, American novelist and poet Fanny Howe explores sibling rivalry within a family that, in the wake of World War II, is both disintegrating and stumbling into the terrible, dark adulthood of the latter half of the Twentieth Century. Yet for all of the dark forces at work in Howe's novel, she presents also a world of wonder, of sexual awakenings interlinked with the Irish countryside and culture in which the girls grow up, the strange stories and myths they hear from the Norwegian north and retell through their own highly-wrought imaginations. The central figures of this fiction, Irene and Cloda, interact with one another and the man who has encamped in their ghost-, now guest-room, as if playing out the lives of the Brontes to a packed theater audience. At the core of this tale, however, is a deep emptiness, a loneliness created from cultural events and both their mother's and father's refusal to accept the fates that overwhelm the sisters in their small Irish encampment. Both seek desperately to escape, Irene to her imaginary world of art and adulthood, Cloda to some dark magic corner where she can learn to become something of worth.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"Between a child's progress from a heavenly world to a world that is a likeness of heaven and then to a world which is delivered and upheld by a dream of heaven, there is only the world." That heavenless world is the setting of this dark fable in prose, verse and pictures from poet and novelist Howe (Saving History; one crossed out), which describes the disintegration of a bohemian Irish-German-American family on the eve of WWII as discontent drives each family member to neglect, abuse or psychosis. The mother, an avant-garde performer, and the father, a distracted academic, leave their adoptive Dublin home to pursue their careers on the Continent. Favored older daughter Irene stays in Ireland with her despised sister, Cloda, while the self-absorbed parents ignore signs of oncoming war. When their mother's former lover, a Norwegian translator, moves in with the sisters, he and 18-year-old Irene fall in love, isolating Cloda even further. Language, not plot, propels this book by way of metaphors, sensory images and lilting rhythms. Interspersed into the narrative are little stories told with traditional syntax and modern irony. As the sisters take on mythic proportions, the war between them seems both to echo and to predict the history of their century. In no sense a traditional novel, this virtuosic book nevertheless recalls such "ante-modernist" fictions as Mann's "Tonio Kroeger" and Yeats's plays, which make their own appearances in the narrative. Woodcut illustrations not seen by PW. (Feb.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557133076
  • Publisher: Sun & Moon Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1997
  • Series: Sun and Moon Classics Series
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.46 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.79 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2006

    Simply Beautiful

    I absolutely loved this novel. Fanny Howe strips away all needless information and leaves you with the bare-bones underlying relationships. Her writing is lyric. Her characters are roughhewn. And her settings seem like they¿re out on the very precipice of existence, while being just down the street from where you, the reader, live. Like Jane Austen, Fanny Howe understands what motivates different personality types¿their appetites, fears, and vulnerabilities¿but unlike the world of Austen, in Howe¿s world the polite manners are thrown out, leaving her characters floating in a sea of isolation. I highly recommend this book. I also recommend Howe¿s In the Middle of Nowhere. I can't praise Fanny Howe's gift enough.

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