Onion

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Though sprightly, this first novel lacks the substantial center that its dense encirclements of theological musing lead the reader to expect. The author's intellectual elaborations often seem banal and fail to cohere dramatically within the narrative, yet there are flashes of wit and insight. Ellen Elliot, 23, has dropped out of her feminist theological studies at Georgetown to marry Saul, a city cop, and stay at home with their baby son, Owen (Onion). Alternating between the present and Ellen's undergraduate past, the spiraling narrative focuses on the heroine's bewilderment about her sexual identity and the role of women in contemporary society. A chance meeting in a restaurant with her former physics professor, who eyes her with lust, prompts Ellen to invent a series of dialogues in which, amidst throes of carnal abandon, she delivers herself of lengthy and generally pedestrian theological pronouncements to her ever-receptive lover. When her imaginary relationship moves into the realm of the actual, Ellen must decide if she wants to realize her fantasies. Meanwhile, the reader has the opportunity to enjoy Braestrup's idiosyncratic characters and their quirky, witty dialogue. Given these strengths, it's a pity the author hasn't better dramatized and solidified the ideational content of her narrative. First serial to Mademoiselle. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Ellen Elliot is a thoroughly modern woman with a loving husband, adorable young son . . . and an active imagination. After her policeman husband introduces her to Bert Potocka, a charming physics professor from Georgetown, she begins daydreaming about him. Her fantasies consist primarily of dialog concerning feminist theology (her major in college) within the context of an imagined affair. These musings are interspersed with tales of her recent history involving Leona, a black lesbian and roommate from college; Maude, her supportive albeit somewhat unorthodox mother; and Grummy, her kooky grandmother, who now speaks only Spanish. Eventually, she arranges a rendezvous with Potocka and reconciles her fiction and reality. Rife with images of female sexuality--blood, intercourse, fertility, abortion, and birth--this first novel is refreshingly creative, alive, and female identified. Recommended.-- Kimberly G. Allen, National Assn. of Home Builders Lib., Washington, D.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670828883
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/1/1990
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 1.00 (w) x 1.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Kate Braestrup
Kate Braestrup
It was while working through the grief and loss of early widowhood that Unitarian minister Kate Braestrup found her true calling. A law enforcement chaplain for the Maine Game Warden Service, she is the author of the award-winning memoir Here if You Need Me.

Biography

Kate Braestrup was raised in Washington, D.C., and met her husband-to-be, James Andrew ("Drew") Griffith, when they both were students. They married in 1985 and moved to Maine when Drew was hired as a state trooper. While raising a family, Braestrup found time to do some writing, and in 1990 she published Onion, a first novel whose title derives from a nickname for their son Owen. Drew was planning to retire from police work and begin training for the Unitarian ministry when tragedy struck. En route to work one morning in 1996, he died in a car accident, leaving Braestrup a widow and single mother of four.

It was in the course of working through her grief that Braestrup found her true calling. Inspired by Drew's dream of becoming a Unitarian minister, she enrolled in Bangor Theological Seminary, was ordained in 2004, and joined the Maine Game Warden Service as a law enforcement chaplain. In this capacity, she responds to dozens of wilderness emergencies, from lost hikers and accident victims to suicides and the occasional murder, offering comfort and counsel to people in need. She recounted her remarkable odyssey in Here if You Need Me, a memoir filled with insightful observations on grief and loss, life and death, God and nature. Published in 2007, the book was a National Book Award finalist and received the Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Nonfiction.

Braestrup has since happily remarried and now lives in Maine with her blended family. In between her ministerial duties, she contributes freelance articles to various publications.

Good To Know

  • Braestrup comes by her writing ability honestly. Her father, Peter Braestrup, was a noted war correspondent, writer, and journalist; founded The Wilson Quarterly; and served as Senior Editor and Director of Communications for the Library of Congress.
  • Braestrup's grandfather, Carl Bjorn Braestrup, worked on the Manhattan Project and co-invented a cobalt-therapy machine used for cancer treatment.
  • In our interview, Braestrup confessed: "I knit too much. I knit my Christmas presents, I knit leg warmers for all the children in my daughter's graduating class; I knit hats for all the editorial staff at Little Brown, I knit all the insulation in my house and am thinking of knitting a cozy for the car. My children are convinced that, if the house caught fire, I would save my knitting basket before I'd save them. (Does my knitting basket have its own perfectly good legs? I ask them.)"
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      1. Hometown:
        Lincolnville, Maine
      1. Date of Birth:
        June 5, 1962
      2. Place of Birth:
        Washington, D.C.
      1. Education:
        Parsons School of Design, New School for Social Research 1979-81; Georgetown University 1983-1986; Bangor Theological

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