The Rest of Life: Three Novellas

Overview

Mary Gordon's luminous new fiction introduces three women, each of whom tells the story of the lover who altered her life. In Immaculate Man, a social worker in her forties whose specialty is battered women becomes the lover of a priest. He has never desired a woman until, at forty-three, he desires her, makes love to her, uses his holy hands to touch her. She teaches Father Clement the language of the flesh; he teaches her the language of the Church - once foreign to her. In Living at Home, he is an Italian ...
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The Rest of Life: Three Novellas

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Overview

Mary Gordon's luminous new fiction introduces three women, each of whom tells the story of the lover who altered her life. In Immaculate Man, a social worker in her forties whose specialty is battered women becomes the lover of a priest. He has never desired a woman until, at forty-three, he desires her, makes love to her, uses his holy hands to touch her. She teaches Father Clement the language of the flesh; he teaches her the language of the Church - once foreign to her. In Living at Home, he is an Italian foreign correspondent, she a psychiatrist who cares for autistic children. He is a man who wants nothing but the woman's body and the sanctuary of their house - until he is seized by news of another revolution, another famine or plague, another destination. And in The Rest of Life, the woman is returning to Turin, the northern Italian town she fled sixty-three years earlier. She was fifteen then; her lover was sixteen. They were rebels, romantics, intellectuals, and they decided to shoot themselves. She chose to live. These three beautifully rendered novellas illuminate the elliptical combination of carnal and spiritual desire in all lives. In stunning prose, Mary Gordon measures the power of the place in which love resides, the way that place shrinks or expands - and is fortified. Rest of Life, Gordon's sixth work of fiction, incantatory in its evocation of love. This is her most radiant and powerful writing.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gordon ( Good Boys and Bad Girls ) here collects three novellas of characteristically understated power about the strange ways of love--and death--among women and men. The title novella concerns love remembered, as Paola, an elderly woman traveling through Italy, recollects her youthful romance with Leo, who died of self-inflicted gunshot wounds after she reneged on their teenaged suicide pact: ``They would make love. Then they would shoot themselves.'' In ``Living at Home,'' another female narrator tells of her ongoing relationship with Lauro, an Italian journalist living with her in London who ``isn't afraid of death'' and who lives on the adrenaline of risk as he covers revolution around the world. The best of the three fictions may be ``Immaculate Man,'' about the unlikely love between a divorced mother and a virginal middle-aged priest, Clement, who is also desired, diplomatically, by Boniface, the priest who was Clement's superior for more than 20 years in an upstate New York monastery. Narrating in the first person, the mother performs an obsessive act of devotion to love, the lover, and love's inevitable end as Gordon dwells on problems of the flesh and of the spirit with a tranquil, painful sense of doom. Mortal reverie is her forte, and love and death are her transfiguring double muses. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140149074
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/28/1994
  • Series: Contemporary American Fiction Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,339,263
  • Product dimensions: 5.23 (w) x 7.79 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Gordon

Mary Gordon, Professor of English at Barnard College, is the bestselling author of five novels, three collections of short stories, and a memoir. Her books include The Rest of Life, The Other Side and Spending. She lives in New York City.

Biography

Mary Gordon is the author of the novels The Love of My Youth, Spending, The Company of Women, and The Rest of Life, as well as the memoir The Shadow Man. She has received a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writer's Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the 1997 O. Henry Award for best short story. She teaches at Barnard College and lives in New York City.

Author biography courtesy of Random House, Inc.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Gordon:

"I don't have any great first job tales: I‘ve never worked on a tramp steamer or in a coal mine or anything like that. I think the inspiration for my writing came largely from my father and the joy that life in books represented to me."

"I love dancing; I adore salsa dancing and wish I could be in a Broadway chorus."

"I could not write without my dog, Rhoda, a Lab-chow mix."

"I would trade any writerly success if it would mean my children would be happy."

"I hate George Bush, John Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, and Cheney. I hate bullies. I hate people who say, ‘It's so fun,' and say, 'literally,' when they mean, ‘figuratively.' "

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    1. Also Known As:
      Mary Gilmour
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 8, 1949
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      A.B., Barnard College, 1971; M.A., Syracuse University, 1973

Table of Contents

Immaculate Man 1
Living at Home 77
The Rest of Life 165
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