Mary Morris, the acclaimed author of Nothing to Declare, the remarkable journal of a woman traveling alone, now brings us an absorbing and evocative novel of healing and forgiveness, love and war. THE WAITING ROOM is the intricate tale of three generations of women whose lives have been shaped by the essential experience of all women, that of waiting—for love to grow stronger, for wars to ...
Mary Morris, the acclaimed author of Nothing to Declare, the remarkable journal of a woman traveling alone, now brings us an absorbing and evocative novel of healing and forgiveness, love and war.
THE WAITING ROOM is the intricate tale of three generations of women whose lives have been shaped by the essential experience of all women, that of waiting—for love to grow stronger, for wars to end, for life to move ahead. In its richly woven texture, its movements through time and space, the novel introduces us to the unforgettable members of the Coleman family: Zoe, who returns home after years away to confront her brother Badger’s break with reality—the result of taking too many drugs in Canada, where he fled to avoid the Vietnam War; June, Zoe’s mother, who first suffered a deep estrangement from her husband when he returned from World War II; and Naomi, the grandmother, who fled the pogroms of Russia.
From the Home on the Road Motel to Badger’s residence at the austere Heartland Clinic, from the plains of the Midwest to the swamps of Florida, three women confront men, madness, dreams, and ultimately one another.
Filled with humor and the wisdom of generations, THE WAITING ROOM is a novel of hope in the face of loss, of war and its casualties. It is also about freeing oneself from the dark side of waiting, and escaping into the light of love. Written in a magical, almost fablelike manner, and with the inimitable humor that informs the fiction of Mary Morris, THE WAITING ROOM fulfills the promise of Morris’ earlier work, which, from the start, has distinguished the author as a unique American voice.
Morris's last three titles ( Crossroads ; The Bus of Dreams ; the nonfiction Nothing to Declare ) reveal a taste for journeys, actual and symbolic. This sagely provocative novel opens with Zoe Coleman returning by train to her Midwest home in response to an urgent summons from the clinic where her drug-ruined brother Badger is institutionalized. On the trip, Zoe recognizes that she's ``in love with distance. With trips across great continents and travel to the moon.'' But like the other women of the novel, Zoe is forced to idle in antechambers, bars and corridors, waiting for men to come back or just to notice them. A dermatologist, Zoe comprehends the body scientifically, while hungering for some stable physical intimacy. Much of the novel reaches into the past to delineate three generations of women: Naomi, Zoe's Russian immigrant grandmother cheated of her only love; June, her mother, whose husband Cal went to WW II a young, strong photographer and came back a stranger; Zoe herself, whose lover Hunt died in another war. A highly accomplished storyteller, Morris captures with humor and perspicacity the complex ways of women with men and with each other. BOMC and QPBC New Voice selections. (May)
Morris's novel opens as Zoe returns to her hometown by train to visit her brother, hospitalized for apparently drug-related mental problems. Her initial, uneasy meeting with her mother is a point of departure for the family history that Morris provides in satisfying detail: grandmother Naomi fled the pogroms of Russia only to lose her beloved first husband to an absurd death on their wedding day; mother June married for love but lost her husband to the despair he experienced after returning from World War II. Though these characters are well drawn, and their relationships intriguing, the language is not quite vivid enough to bring the novel to life. Still, there are gratifying moments, for Morris deals forthrightly with issues of quiet signficance, testing one family's delicate balance of love and misunderstanding as she goes.-- Barbara Hoffert, ``Library Journal''
Mary Morris is the author of Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone, which was cited by the New York Times as one of the most notable books of 1988; two collections of short stories: Vanishing Animals, which was awarded the Rome prize by the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letter, and The Bus of Dreams, which won the Friends of American Writers Award. Crossroads, published in 1983, was her first novel. She resides with her young daughter in New York City.