The Full Catastrophe

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Linguist Jeremy Cook knows how language works, but he doesn't know how marriage works. In fact, he is strangely hostile to the institution. So Cook is naturally uneasy about his job with the Pillow Agency, a St. Louis firm specializing in "the linguistically troubled marriage." His assignment is to move in with Dan and Beth Wilson, a prosperous suburban couple with an impoverished relationship, to analyze their verbal problems and help them-if he can. As Cook catalogs the Wilsons' missed signs and missed signals,...

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The Full Catastrophe

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Overview

Linguist Jeremy Cook knows how language works, but he doesn't know how marriage works. In fact, he is strangely hostile to the institution. So Cook is naturally uneasy about his job with the Pillow Agency, a St. Louis firm specializing in "the linguistically troubled marriage." His assignment is to move in with Dan and Beth Wilson, a prosperous suburban couple with an impoverished relationship, to analyze their verbal problems and help them-if he can. As Cook catalogs the Wilsons' missed signs and missed signals, he becomes increasingly, most unscientifically, involved.

In the tradition of Stephen McCauley's The Onject of My Affection, here is the critically acclaimed fourth novel from the author of Double Negative. The Los Angeles Times praised The Full Catastrophe as "eccentric, hilarious, wildly inventive and eerily accurate . . . a terrific book." Advertising in New York Times Book Review.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Flaky, amiable Jeremy Cook, the linguist Carkeet introduced in Double Negative , leaves the ivied halls of academe for the closer confines of a suburban home in this wrenching yet often exhilarating examination of a troubled modern marriage. When the Wabash Institute in Indiana folds for lack of funding, Jeremy slips into a job in Saint Louis, Mo., with the Pillow Agency, a zany marriage-counseling service. His assignment is to move in with Beth and Dan Wilson and, by observing their interactions, help them decide if their marriage can be saved. Jeremy insinuates himself into the Wilsons' daily activities. His relationship with the couple and their game 10-year-old Robbie is at once intimate and distant, definitely a seat-of-the-pants proposition, but his training as a linguist serves him, and probably the Wilsons, well. Carkeet's premise is fresh, his characters utterly winning and his comic observations full of affection for those caught up in the complex confusions of love. Laugh-out-loud scenes and swift, convincing dialogue mark this lunatic look at serious issues; the conclusion may be irresolute, but all the more believable for that. Literary Guild alternate. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Unemployed linguist Jeremy Cook heads west to St. Louis for a well-paid job with the philanthropic Pillow Agency as a live-in observer of a troubled marriage. Dan and Beth Wilson, and their ten-year-old son Robbie, are middle-class middle Americans on the edge of destruction. Lack of communication, good intentions gone wrong, and bullheadedness are among the commonplace but damning marital difficulties Jeremy faces. A bachelor and an academic, Jeremy would appear eminently unsuited to the task of helping to save the marriage. In the end, Jeremy and the novel itself prove full of small surprises. The author's second novel featuring Jeremy Cook (the first was Double Negative), this is wickedly funny, deeply compassionate, and highly readable. An excellent choice for most academic and public libraries. Literary Guild alternate.--James B. Hemesath, Adams State Coll. Lib., Alamosa, Col.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671732455
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press
  • Publication date: 4/8/1991
  • Series: Jeremy Cook Series
  • Pages: 324
  • Product dimensions: 5.33 (w) x 8.19 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

David Carkeet is the author of five novels, including three New York Times Notable Books. His honors include an Edgar nomination, an O. Henry Award, an NEA Fellowship, and the AWP Creative Nonfiction Award. He lived in St. Louis for thirty years with his wife and three daughters. He currently lives in Worcester, Vermont.
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