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School for the Blind

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Overview

Dennis McFarland's best-selling novel The Music Room was one of the most exciting literary debuts of 1990. Eagerly awaited, McFarland's second novel confirms this generously gifted writer's place among the best novelists of his generation. School for the Blind is the story of a brother and sister, now in their seventies, propelled on an unforeseen journey into their pasts by a shocking event in the present. Francis Brimin, a celebrated news photographer, has spent his perapatetic life as a professional voyeur, ...
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School for the Blind: A Novel

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Overview

Dennis McFarland's best-selling novel The Music Room was one of the most exciting literary debuts of 1990. Eagerly awaited, McFarland's second novel confirms this generously gifted writer's place among the best novelists of his generation. School for the Blind is the story of a brother and sister, now in their seventies, propelled on an unforeseen journey into their pasts by a shocking event in the present. Francis Brimin, a celebrated news photographer, has spent his perapatetic life as a professional voyeur, peering out with his camera at the lives of others but avoiding any gaze inward. Now retired, he returns to his childhood home on the Gulf Coast of Florida and reacquaints himself with his sweet-tempered older sister, Muriel, whose circumscribed life has been the opposite of his own. But both brother and sister are haunted by images from the past, and when Francis stumbles upon evidence of a gruesome local murder, it shakes them profoundly. Gripped by a "creeping vine of memory," they gradually confront their blindness to the hidden truths about their lives.

The New York Times bestselling author of The Music Room offers the story of a septuagenarian brother and sister who stumble upon evidence of a murder. Gripped by memories, they are forced to confront their blindness to the hidden truths in their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
McFarland's first novel, The Music Room , was justly praised for its insights into human nature and its graceful prose. His new work will draw raves for yet deeper sensibilities, as he tackles the subjects of aging and death. Here he chronicles the waning years of two elderly siblings, Francis and Muriel Brimm, as they reluctantly come to grips with the past and learn to accept their gradual decline. Yet this is no lugubrious story, for as he did in his earlier book, McFarland places a mystery at the center of the tale. Walking on the golf course near the Florida town where Muriel has spent her life and to which retired photojournalist Frank has returned, they discover the bones of two students from the nearby school for the blind. The search for the killer's identity forces Frank and Muriel to abandon their own willed ``blindness'' and to retrieve memories of their childhood with a mean, alcoholic father and a stern, cold mother. Eventually Muriel must confront the devastating fact of her father's molestation. If this plot strand smacks of overuse, let it be said that in McFarland's hands it acquires fresh credibility and poignancy. McFarland moves the plot with deliberate speed, interweaving some memorable supporting characters, the most vivid of whom is tough-mouthed Dierdre, Muriel's housecleaner, who acquires a pivotal role in their lives; a gentle black police detective; and several neighbors. There is a new dimension to McFarland's writing here, as he displays an extraordinary ability to describe both states of mind and the evanescent physical sensations that accompany them. His technical control is admirable in his subtle contrast of Muriel's spiritual longings with Frank's cynical agnosticism and his inspired use of a Chekhov story. Though he writes unsentimentally about old age and death, when he allows his language to soar into poetry, it is transcendent and beautifully moving. BOMC selection; author tour. May
Donna Seaman
Once again, McFarland traces the shadows of childhood as they darken the psyche well into adulthood. As in his first novel, the well-received "The Music Room" (1990), a character's homecoming inspires a confrontation with the past. Francis Brimm, a famous news photographer, has been all around the world, gathering no moss, wife, or children. He decides, unexpectedly, to return to his little Florida hometown when he retires. His sister Muriel has also remained single, but unlike her worldly brother, she has never left the house she grew up in. This lack of variety has not made Muriel dull; she is a woman of quiet intelligence, fortitude, and compassion. Their quiet reunion arouses old, disturbing memories for Muriel, while Francis experiences a persistent vision. Both forms of psychic disturbance cause pain. Muriel begins to suspect she was sexually abused by her father, while Francis realizes he is dying. Add one young, unmarried, pregnant, troubled, and kind housekeeper, and a murder investigation, and you have a story of many dimensions. McFarland has retained the lyricism and generosity of spirit that distinguished his first novel while extending his range with humor, suspense, and a bracingly clear-eyed consideration of death.
From Barnes & Noble
The story of a brother and sister, now in their seventies, propelled on an unforeseen journey into their past by a shocking event in the present--a murder. Gripped by a "creeping vine of memory," they gradually confront their blindness to the hidden truths about their lives. A luminously powerful work by the author of the bestseller "The Music Room."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804113502
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 4/1/1995
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 6.88 (h) x 0.72 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2014

    If you're looking for a murder mystery, you will be dissapointed

    If you're looking for a murder mystery, you will be dissapointed.  If you are familiar with the writings of Dennis
    McFarland, you will enjoy the book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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