Ordinary Life: Stories

( 5 )

Overview

In this superb collection of short stories, Elizabeth Berg takes us into remarkable moments in the lives of women, when memories and events come together to create a sense of coherence, understanding, and change. In “Ordinary Life,” Mavis McPherson locks herself in the bathroom for a week, shutting out her husband and the realities of their life together—and, no, she isn’t contemplating a divorce. She just needs some time to think, to take stock of her life, and to arrive, ...
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Overview

In this superb collection of short stories, Elizabeth Berg takes us into remarkable moments in the lives of women, when memories and events come together to create a sense of coherence, understanding, and change. In “Ordinary Life,” Mavis McPherson locks herself in the bathroom for a week, shutting out her husband and the realities of their life together—and, no, she isn’t contemplating a divorce. She just needs some time to think, to take stock of her life, and to arrive, finally, at a surprising conclusion.

In “White Dwarf” and “Martin’s Letter to Nan,” the secrets of a marriage are revealed with the sensitivity and “brilliant insights about the human condition” (Detroit Free Press) that have become a trademark of Berg’s writing. The Charlotte Observer has said, “Berg captures the way women think as well as any writer.” Those qualities of wisdom and insight are everywhere present in Ordinary Life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Immediate, moment-to-moment storytelling that unfolds with the naturalism and authenticity of real life.” —The Boston Globe

“An extraordinary short story collection that deserves our closest attention.” —Detroit Free Press

“Elizabeth Berg’s gift as a storyteller lies most powerfully in her ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, the remarkable in the everyday.” —The Boston Globe

“Berg’s...deftly drawn pictures of ordinary life can help remind us of its oft-unheeded charms.” —Los Angeles Times
From The Critics
In the tradition of Berg's Open House, her Oprah's Book Club-selected novel, this is a collection of moving stories about women whose lives are governed by domestic chores and good sense. When their daily routines are interrupted by madness, disease or death, they are much too prudent to call attention to themselves. Instead, they collapse inward, causing their husbands and children as little discomfort as possible. In the title story, seventy-nine-year-old Mavis McPhearson decides to "go on retreat" in order to take stock of her life. Too thrifty to spring for a beach vacation, she lives in her bathroom for a week, sustaining herself on women’s magazines and boxes of Wheat Thins. Berg's adult heroines quietly struggle to reconcile their desire for love and family with their need for independence and self-discovery; however, the most lyrical, energetic stories are narrated by girls who haven't been silenced yet by gender expectations. Reading this collection is like being privy to one of these late-night conversations among women. You leave it feeling privileged, included, reassured by stories that are at once familiar and refreshingly different from your own.
—Susan Tekulve
Publishers Weekly
Focusing, in 15 short tales, on those moments in women's lives that provide opportunity for reflection, bestselling author Berg (Open House, an Oprah's Book Club selection) zeroes in on the same kind of emotional revelations she plumbs in her novels. In many cases, her characters have simply reached a point at which they need to take stock, as has 79-year-old Mavis in the title story, who decides to hole up in the bathroom for a week. Supplied with food and magazines, and keeping her baffled husband at bay, Mavis ponders the seemingly arbitrary events of her marriage, the upbringing of her children, and the recent death of her sister, wondering if there is any meaning to it all. The adult daughter in "Caretaking" remembers her childhood as she learns how to cope with her mother, afflicted with Alzheimer's disease; in "What Stays," a young daughter takes solace in memories of her mother's gentleness and love. Couples who are at a dead end in their relationships learn things about themselves in unexpected ways, such as the pair in "White Dwarf," who examine the fallout of the wife's affair while playing a word-association game. "Martin's Letter to Nan" is the husband's response to the wife who left home in Berg's novel, The Pull of the Moon. While the men and women who populate the stories typify the monolithic entities of the fabled battle of the sexes "men don't talk" is a refrain repeated more than once Berg's gentle probing of everyday events offers insight into turning points of life that may not set off fireworks but are nevertheless indelible. Affecting and sentimental, these stories could easily appear in the magazines sold at grocery checkout counters; as light commercial fiction, they should provide sustenance for Berg's fans. Agent, Lisa Bankoff. 10-city author tour. (Feb. 26) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
This book is a collection of 14 short stories by Berg, who has a gift for writing dialogue that expresses how people communicate between the lines, and how they struggle to connect with each other. For example, in "What Stays," grown-up daughter Lizzy thinks back to her childhood and tells the tale of her mother's spiraling mental illness. Lizzy recounts her confusion about her mother's illness, and how her father struggled to protect his daughter from the truth about her loving but eccentric mother. Berg is also especially adept at showing the differences in how men and women communicate, with her older male characters often avoiding any conversations about feelings. In this vein, another poignant story, "Martin's Letter to Nan," consists entirely of a letter written by a husband, after he's found a note from his wife that says she's gone. The title story, "Ordinary Life: A Love Story," is one of my favorites. In that tale, a 79-year-old woman named Mavis decides to take a self-styled soul-searching retreat-in her very own bathroom-much to the confusion and chagrin of her stodgy husband. Ordinary Life is a compilation of short stories that are accessible, but somehow they pull no emotional punches. There's no sense of tricked-up artistry in Berg's stories. She indeed does write about ordinary life, with humor and pathos, cruelty and kindness. There are some hints of sexuality, and violence, but nothing is graphic or explicit. KLIATT Codes: SA-Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Random House, 192p., Ages 15 to adult.
— Janice Bees
Library Journal
Berg's first collection of short stories takes us, as the title promises, into the ordinary daily lives of its characters. The shorter fiction form allows Berg to focus on smaller slices of life where she can explore the struggle and either loss or gain in both the routine and in its interruptions. The 14 pieces are clearly from Berg's familiar world: domestic uneasiness, illness, dependency, and self-discovery. "Martin's Letter to Nan," in fact, is the husband's response to his wife from her novel The Pull of the Moon. Laura Hicks's reading suffers from poor pacing between stories, as the title of the next tale tends to latch onto the end lines of the previous one. Also, she is more comfortable with female voices. An uneven set of lighter reading and moving glimpses that capture the essences of these mostly women's lives. Recommended for larger fiction collections.-Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Oprah's Book Clubber Berg (Open House, 2000, etc.) offers 15 stories deftly detailing those defining moments in ordinary women's lives when fresh insights help explain their discontents.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812968132
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/13/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 624,344
  • Product dimensions: 5.23 (w) x 7.97 (h) x 0.48 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Berg
Elizabeth Berg’s novels Open House, The Pull of the Moon, Range of Motion, What We Keep, Never Change, and Until the Real Thing Comes Along were bestsellers. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year. Talk Before Sleep was an ABBY finalist and a New York Times bestseller. In 1997, Berg won the NEBA Award in fiction, and in 2000 her novel Open House was named an Oprah’s Book Club selection. She lives in Chicago.

From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

Elizabeth Berg made her mark as a promising writer with the publication of her first novel, Durable Goods (1993), the story of Katie, a 12-year-old girl reeling from her mother's death while her abusive father drags her from town to town. The book, like Katie, was tough but tender, and the American Library Association named it a Best Book of the Year.

Since then, Berg has written subsequent novels, most of them, like Durable Goods, sincere, unpretentious, somewhat sentimental, and focused on an event that changes a woman's life. In Joy School (1997), a continuation of Katie's story, the crucible is her first taste of romance; in What We Keep (1998), it's a girl's abandonment by her mother; in Until the Real Thing Comes Along (1999), it's a woman's love for a gay man. All are grounded in the realistic minutiae of family life: irksome marriages, tempestuous parent-child relationships, love, betrayal, and resolution.

Although her books have received mixed reviews from critics, Berg remains immensely popular with readers who appreciate her fine powers of observation and honest descriptions. Her command of authentic details is on best display in her medically-themed titles. Before she became a full-time writer, Berg was a registered nurse, where she accumulated an endless store of observations related to sickness, healing, and the emotional toll that health crises take on people. In Range of Motion, Berg wrote about the experience of a comatose man; in Talk Before Sleep, about a nurse caring for a good friend who is succumbing to cancer; in Never Change, about a nurse treating an incurably ill man who also happens to have been a childhood acquaintance.

Although Berg's plots can occasionally be predictable, equally predictable is her taut, intelligent foray into the forces that shape ordinary people's lives -- especially women's lives -- and her exploration of the infinite resilience of the human spirit.

Good To Know

Berg had an experience she used for the straight-gay relationship in Until the Real Thing Comes Along: Her college love later came out to her after the two had broken up. The character of Ethan is modeled on that college boyfriend.

Berg hasn't managed to get her way when it comes to titling her books, usually getting overruled by her agent and editor. She wanted to call Durable Goods The King of Wands, after a tarot card; Range of Motion would have been Telling Songs; and Open House would have been The Hotel Meatloaf. Perhaps Berg should be thankful for her handlers?

Durable Goods was never meant to have a sequel, Berg says in a publisher's interview, but she ended up writing Joy School (and later True to Form) because she missed the original characters. Berg explains: "There was just a time when I was lying in the bathtub, and I thought about Katie, and I got out of the bathtub and started writing about her to see what she was up to."

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    1. Hometown:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 2, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Paul, Minnesota
    1. Education:
      Attended the University of Minnesota; St. Mary’s College, A.A.S.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
Ordinary Life: A Love Story

Mavis McPherson is locked in the bathroom and will not come out. The tub is lined with pillows and blankets. Under the sink, next to the extra toilet paper, there is an economy-sized box of Wheat Thins, a bowl of apples, and a six-pack of Heath bars. Against the wall, under the towel rack, is a case of Orangina, and next to that is a neat pile of magazines and three library books. A spiral-bound notebook and pen lie on top of the toilet tank. Hanging from the hook on the back of the door are several changes of underwear.

Mavis is on retreat, she tells her husband through the crack in the door when he comes home that evening. Al volunteers at St. Mary's Hospital, dividing his time between delivering newspapers to patients and helping maintenance fix faulty equipment, though this is a secret from the administration-volunteers aren't supposed to do that. Al's mechanical skills are legendary, but he is not known for his sense of humor. "Come on, Mavis," he sighs. "What's for dinner?"

"You might as well go on over to Big Boy," Mavis tells him. "I'm not cooking dinner. I'm not coming out for a week or so. It's nothing personal." She leans her ear against the crack in the door, listening for his response.

She hears only the wheezy sounds of him breathing in and out. She's afraid Al has emphysema, but he won't go to a doctor. "See 'em enough at the hospital," he always says. "Stuffy little bastards." She tries to look through the crack in the door, sees a tiny slice of Al's blue shirt, a piece of his ear. "Let me in, Mavis," he finally says, rattling the doorknob. "I gotta use the can."

"You know perfectly well we have another bathroom. You'll have to use that."

"I don't like that one. And it doesn't have a bathtub."

"Well, I know that."

"So how am I supposed to shower?" Al likes to shower in the evening, a characteristic Mavis has never liked, finding it somehow effeminate. Overall, though, she has few complaints. She loves Al dearly.

"You'll have to ask the neighbors," Mavis says. "Or maybe the Y. I'll bet the Y would let you shower there."

Silence. Then Al says, "What is this, Mavis, a fight? Is it a fight?"

She steps back, fingers the ruffled collar of her white blouse. "Why, no," she says, a little surprised. "I just got an idea that I really want some time completely to myself. And I'm taking it. I don't see the point in running off somewhere. We can't afford it anyway. Can we?"

Nothing.

"So," she says, "I'll stay right here. I don't need anything but some quiet. I want to be in a small room, alone, to just . . . relax, and not do anything else. I was thinking of the ocean, but this is fine."

"Oh, boy. I'm calling the kids," Al says. "And I'm calling Dr. Edelson or Edelman or whoever that robber is that you go to every twenty minutes. You've gone around the bend this time, Mavis. What have you got in there, Alzheimer's? Is that it?" He knocks loudly at the door. "Mavis, have you lost your goddamn mind?"

Mavis goes to the mirror to look at herself, tightens one of her pearl studs that has loosened, then walks back to the door. "I am seventy-nine years old, Al," she says softly, into the crack.

"What's that?"

"I say I'm seventy-nine years old," she says, louder.

He inhales sharply. "Aw, jeez. This is about my missing your birthday?"

"It's not my birthday for five months, Al. Remember? I was born in December. In a blizzard. Remember?"

"Well, I'm calling the kids," Al says. "Yes sir. All three of them. Right now." She hears his voice moving down the hall. "And your doctor, too."

"That's not necessary," Mavis calls out. And then, yelling, "Al? I'm not going crazy. I'm just thinking. I was going to tell you about this, but you . . ."

He can't hear her. She sits down on the closed seat of the toilet, peels the wrapper off a candy bar. "I am seventy-nine years old," she says aloud, and takes a bite. This is the beginning of what she wanted to say. Truthfully, she wasn't sure what would come next; she figured it would just happen, naturally. She examines the candy bar as she chews. She has always liked this, looking at food while she eats it. Makes it taste better. She wonders how they get that curly little swirl on the top of every candy bar. It's a nice touch, even though some machine did it and it is therefore not sincere. She crosses her legs, gently swings the top one, then leans over to the side to inspect it. She used to have great legs. "Oh, honey," Al had said the first time he undid her garters and pulled her nylons off. "Look at these gams." He had kissed her thighs, and she blushed so furiously she thought surely he'd see it in the dark. They were on their honeymoon, in a cottage in the Adirondacks. Her hair had been long and honey blonde, pulled back at the sides by two tortoiseshell combs, curled under at the bottom in a pageboy. The Andrews Sisters were on the radio at the moment she lost her virginity, her white negligee raised high over her breasts, one comb fallen off and digging into her shoulder, though not unpleasantly. She shook so hard when Al entered her he wanted to stop, but she wouldn't let him. "It's fine, honey," she said. "It just hurts." Her fingers were balled into fists against his back and she uncurled them, tried to relax. She looked for a place on the ceiling to focus on. She'd concentrate on that, take her mind off things.

"I can wait," Al had said. "Why don't I wait?" He'd raised himself up, tried to look into her face. But she hid herself in his shoulder, embarrassed and silent, then giggling.

"I don't think that helps, waiting," she'd finally said. "You just go on ahead. It's all right."

Afterward, they'd made a nest of the blankets and pillows, faced each other in the dim light, spoke in low tones of all the things they wanted to do: candlelit dinners every Saturday night, four children, the biggest Christmas tree on the lot every year. They touched each other's faces with the tips of their fingers, probed gently at the openings between each other's lips. At breakfast the next morning, Al had said Mavis looked different. More womanly. She said she'd noticed exactly the same thing.

He took her hand, she put down her fork, and they went back

to the bedroom. Already they had a special language, Mavis had thought, and the intimacy grounded her, fueled her. It hadn't hurt so much the second time.

"Hey, Mavis," Al says now, banging on the door. "Jonathan wants to talk to you. He's on the phone. You'd better come out here."

Mavis walks to the door, straightens her skirt, speaks loudly into the crack. "Listen to me, Al. I just told you I want to have a week to myself. I'm not coming out to talk on the telephone to Jonathan or any of the other children. I wish you'd stop running off and just let me tell you about this. No need to take offense or to think I'm crazy. For heaven's sake."

"Jonathan is on the phone, long distance," Al says.

Mavis rolls her eyes. "Well, I guess I know it's long distance, Al. If he lives in California and we live in Minnesota, then obviously it's long distance."

"So what am I supposed to say? That his mother can't be bothered talking to him?"

Mavis sighs, thinks for a moment. Jonathan in the Bathinette, his baby fists waving, his palm-sized chest rising up and down excitedly. "Water," Mavis is saying. "Yes, it's water, darling." A kerchief is around her head. She is wearing red lipstick and open-toed shoes.

Quietly, Mavis says, "Go and tell Jonathan that I'm fine, Al, that I'll call him in a week. And don't you say anything else. I can hear you, you know!"

She can't, of course, the phone is too far away, but Al doesn't know that. His hearing is starting to go, hers has thus far remained the same, so as far as Al is concerned, Mavis's hearing is suddenly extraordinarily acute.

"And come back after that," Mavis says. "I want to talk to you."

"The hell I will," Al says. "I'm going out."

"Where to?"

"The straitjacket store, that's where."

Big Boy, Mavis thinks. Well, good. When he comes back he'll be in a better mood. He'll get beef because she's not around to tell him not to, probably a cream pie for dessert, too. Fine. Then she'll be able to talk to him. Maybe he'll feel a little guilty about what he ate. That will work entirely to her benefit as well.

She slips off her shoes, climbs into the bathtub, lies back against the pillows. It's really not bad. For once in her life, she is happy she's so short. She wiggles her toes inside her nylons. She should have dressed more casually. She undoes the button on her skirt, then unzips it slightly. There is a tan-colored stain on her blouse between the second and third button. Coffee? She wets her finger, rubs at it. Well, she'll soak it later. It's convenient being in here. She closes her eyes. She's really very comfortable, could probably take a nap right now. But then it will be hard to sleep later on tonight.

She arranges the pillows to act as a backrest and climbs out of the tub to get a magazine. She feels the mean pull of arthritis in her knees. She selects a Good Housekeeping, climbs back in the tub, starts flipping through the pages, and realizes she's already looked at this one-there's the place where she tore out the recipe for low-fat lemon chicken.

Mavis used to give all her old magazines to her sister, Eileen, but her sister died last year. Breast cancer. She closes her eyes, lets herself hurt for a moment. The pain has not yet dulled, nor does she expect it to or even want it to.

Mavis and Eileen slept in the same bed as children; until she was eight, Mavis's preamble to sleep was to wrap Eileen's long hair around her fingers, then suck her thumb dreamily while drifting off. She had to make sure Eileen was sleeping first; Eileen got mad if she caught Mavis messing with her hair. Mavis had once tried wrapping her fingers in the folds of a satin doll dress her mother had given her for her birthday, but it wouldn't do-she needed the weighty, coarse silkiness of Eileen's hair. She liked the heat from Eileen's scalp at one end, reminding her of the thrilling fact of life; and the cool and bristly bluntness at the other end was wonderful to twitch your fingers over rapidly. It was worth getting caught every now and then for all that pleasure. The worst that ever happened was the night Mavis didn't wait long enough, and Eileen reared up like a ghost in her white nightgown and socked Mavis three times in the stomach. Otherwise any attack was a sleepy and halfhearted thing that barely hurt, a dull nudge in the rib, a smack on her leg that was off the mark and carried no more weight than a falling towel. And of course, she usually didn't get caught at all.

Mavis had gotten married first, and when Eileen asked her for certain essential details, Mavis had said, "Now, you might want to cry out. But don't." Oh, she missed her. Missed her. The conversations at the kitchen table, their elbows on the embroidered tablecloth, the steam from their coffee cups rising up. They would talk far into the night when they got together every week for dinner, and Al and Big Jim would get so impatient. They were all right as long as the fights were on, or some other sports event, but then the minute that was over, they wanted to go, one or the other of them, back home. When they were at Eileen's house, Al would come to stand at Mavis's shoulder, and she ignored him as long as she was able to. When they were at Mavis's, Big Jim would eventually sit down heavily at the table with them, simultaneously irritated and interested in what could possibly keep them here for so long, what could be so important that they hadn't even taken their aprons off from doing dishes before they sat down. They had just talked yesterday, hadn't they? Hell, they talked every day, didn't they?

On one memorable occasion, Al and Big Jim had both gone to sleep in the living room, both of them on the sofa with their heads back and their mouths open, and the women finally had the chance to completely exhaust themselves. They woke their husbands up at 2 a.m. after they'd taken a picture.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Table of Contents

Ordinary Life: A Love Story 3
Departure from Normal 30
Things We Used to Believe 36
Caretaking 41
Sweet Refuge 53
Take This Quiz 76
Martins' Letter to Nan 84
What Stays 98
White Dwarf 120
The Matchmaker 131
One Time at Christmas, in My Sister's Bathroom 146
Regrets Only 159
The Thief 174
Today's Special 186
Author's Note 191
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Reading Group Guide

1. Elizabeth Berg’s writing style is spare, clear, accessible, and deft. Does it fit her material? Do you think it is easy to write this way?

2. Berg titles this collection Ordinary Life and her characters are all “ordinary” people. What is meant by the term “ordinary” in this book? And what is it about “ordinary life” and “ordinary people” that is so compelling?

3. In the title story, Mavis McPherson locks herself in the bathroom for a few days. Why? What good does it do? What harm? What happens in that bathroom, and what difference will the time she spent there cast over the rest of her life?

4. Martha in “Things We Used to Believe” sees herself as “severely married.” What does this tell us about her character? How does she describe her relationship with Alan? What do you think their relationship is? In the end, when she agrees she is “bad,” what does she mean?

5. Illness, in Ordinary Life, is seen as a “Departure from Normal.” How do people with terminal illnesses reconnect with so-called ordinary life? How could people who are estranged by illness come to feel less estranged, more a part of life? If you were given a bad diagnosis, what would help you feel less isolated and different?

6. In “Caretaking” and in “Sweet Refuge,” people are called on to care for others. In “Caretaking,” the daughter and her mother take turns as caregiver; in “Sweet Refuge,” Abby has her mind and heart opened by Richard. How do the ill care for us? What can we learn from people who are nearer to death than we are?

7. Adultery is a subject in several stories: “Things We Used to Believe,” “Regrets Only,” “What Stays,” and “White Dwarf.” In “White Dwarf,” George says of adultery, “These things happen.” How does his assessment strike you? How does Berg portray adultery in these diverse stories? Does she approve or disapprove of it? Is adultery necessarily bad? Does it necessarily deserve forgiveness?

8. In “Regrets Only,” Laurence, a gay man, seeks to set his dying mother’s mind at ease about his sexual identity by introducing her to a fake girlfriend. Was this a good idea on any level? What effect did this deception have on him? What did it have on his friend who poses as the girlfriend? What did she learn from their shared kiss—about herself, about him, about her marriage?

9. George in “White Dwarf” says, “Men don’t talk.” But in many of these stories, men do talk—some reluctantly, in response to women forcing them, and often frankly, openly, even heartlessly (“Take This Quiz,” “Martin’s Letter to Nan,” “White Dwarf”). What do they say? And what do you think about it? Do you think men and women communicate differently, as Berg suggests? What is your experience in the ongoing dialogue between men and women?

10. “Martin’s Letter to Nan” is the last story Elizabeth Berg wrote in Ordinary Life, yet it sits in the middle of the book. Why do you think she arranged the stories in the way that she did, with the title story first, and this story in the middle?

11. Berg says that the writing of “Martin’s Letter to Nan” was “fun.” What, do you suppose, made it fun for her? Is her sense of fun communicated to the reader? If so, how?

12. What does the thief in “The Thief” steal? Why do you think Jonathan Hansen picked out Kate Conway to rob?What happened between him and Kate Conway? Should she have called the police?

13. Kate, the narrator of “One Time at Christmas, in My Sister’s Bathroom,” is at a crisis point in her relationship with her incommunicative, critical father, Sam. Everybody else in her family seems to take Sam in stride, so why does Kate have such trouble with him? When Kate goes into the bathroom and cries, what is she crying about? What happens during the course of time Kate spends in that bathroom? What has changed by the time she’s left it?

14. Sarah Harris in “The Matchmaker” is eleven, in fullblown adolescence, see-sawing between childhood and adulthood and trying, step-by-step, to make her own way in the world. What does she do that’s childlike? When does she step into an adult role? How does she feel about her growing personal power?

15. In the story “What Stays,” a mother is forced to leave her family for treatments at a mental hospital. Lizzy, her daughter, sees and describes more of the situation than she can really understand. How does Berg’s technique—using what is called “an unreliable first person narrator”—add to the impact of this story? What do we readers understand that the child Lizzie doesn’t? How would the story be different if told from the father’s point of view? From the older sister’s point of view? From the mother’s point of view?

16. “Today’s Special” was the first short story that Elizabeth Berg wrote, yet it is placed last in this book. Why do you think she did that? What are the concerns and elements in “Today’s Special” that Berg returns to, expands,and elaborates on in other stories? How have her interests and technique changed?

17. If you had to choose a favorite story in this collection which would it be? What are the elements of the story that most appealed to you? Which story did you find least engaging?

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2013

    This was just okay, not great.  Stories seemed a bit shallow and

    This was just okay, not great.  Stories seemed a bit shallow and the characters one-dimensional and whinny..   Try  Ellen Gilchrist or Alice Monroe for well-written, interesting short stories .

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2002

    These stories touched my heart and opened my eyes

    Ordinary Life is so aptly titled. It has made me laugh and cry relating my own life to the many characters in these wonderful stories. I am such a fan of Elizabeth Berg; how she can make you understand the opposite sexes point of view is amazing! I am giving this book as a Christmas gift this year to all my friends and it will be read by me many times over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2002

    Short, yet so effective!

    Berg writes these short stories with such depth that the characters come alive entirely within the story. You will recognize someone you know, maybe yourself, somewhere in these stories and the emotion will feel familiar.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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