The Rags of Time: A Novel

The Rags of Time: A Novel

by Maureen Howard
     
 

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The magnificent conclusion of Maureen Howard's ambitious quartet of novels.

Maureen Howard is one of America's most esteemed authors, beloved both for the lyricism of her writing and her dazzling intellect. The Rags of Time is a moving meditation on memory and imagination that, in its interplay of history, politics, art and life, explores the very

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Overview

The magnificent conclusion of Maureen Howard's ambitious quartet of novels.

Maureen Howard is one of America's most esteemed authors, beloved both for the lyricism of her writing and her dazzling intellect. The Rags of Time is a moving meditation on memory and imagination that, in its interplay of history, politics, art and life, explores the very necessity of telling stories. Focusing on a New York writer with an ailing heart as she reviews her own history and the lives she imagined in her fiction, the novel interlaces the sorrows and consolations of private moments with the undeniable memory of the public record. The result is nothing less than a deeply profound exploration of American life.

Editorial Reviews

Jess Row
Like all of Howard's work, The Rags of Time is extremely ambitious, not only in scale but also in points of reference. It incorporates, among other elements, detailed forays into the lives of Christopher Columbus, Sir Walter Raleigh and Frederick Law Olmsted; epigraphs from Donne, Kafka, Genesis, Henry James, Doris Lessing and Jacques Derrida; woodcuts by Durer; and prints by Goya. As such, Howard invites the reader to try to make sense of it all, to stare at the structure whole, as if at one of Joseph Cornell's boxes full of minutely arranged objects, and give it a name and a theme. But looking at her writing from this perspective misses the most interesting part: her sentences. No one writing in English today produces anything quite like them.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Central Park features prominently in this rambling final installment of Howard’s “Novels of the Seasons” quartet. Plagued by heart trouble, an aging novelist is confined to her New York apartment, with slow walks through the park as her only relief. “Soul-baring” confessions, many of them rants, are directed against Bush and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as the narrator weaves commentary on contemporary events with meditations on her past as a writer and political activist. These thoughts, blended with detailed descriptions of her walks, become entries in her daybook. Characters from previous novels in the series reappear: Artie, the math Ph.D. candidate and his painter wife; Sylvie, an elderly refugee from Nazi-occupied Austria; Marie Claude, a recently widowed American history professor. But the narrator’s main focus, in the most engaging passages, is three prominent figures: Christopher Columbus, Sir Walter Raleigh and Frederick Law Olmsted. Quotations and photographs flesh out learned reflections, but Howard’s digressions are too lacking in direction to hold our attention through the endless high-brow references. The marks of a master—beautiful prose and ambitious structure—are not enough to hold together the rich strands of this patchwork novel. (Oct.)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143117896
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/28/2010
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Maureen Howard is the author of seven novels, including Grace Abounding, Expensive Habits, and Natural History, all of which were nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award. She has taught at a number of American universities, including Columbia, Princeton, Amherst, and Yale, and was recently awarded the Academy Award in Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in New York City.

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