When All Is Said and Done

When All Is Said and Done

by Robert Hill
     
 

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Eight years and four jobs and five pregnancies and meetings and train schedules and formula and diapers and deadlines and clients and mortgage and croup and a revolving door of baby nurses and Dan stagnating in that civilian job I convinced him to take when the Air Force wanted him back for Korea of all things, they got Elvis, they didn't need Dan, a man of

Overview

Eight years and four jobs and five pregnancies and meetings and train schedules and formula and diapers and deadlines and clients and mortgage and croup and a revolving door of baby nurses and Dan stagnating in that civilian job I convinced him to take when the Air Force wanted him back for Korea of all things, they got Elvis, they didn't need Dan, a man of his age, for crying out loud, and after what they did to him in that hospital upstate . . .

It is the early 1960s and Myrmy stubs her toe in the predawn hours on her way to soothe her infant son, cursing the latest nurse for not waking up, again. Dressed to the nines, it is Myrmy who is off to an executive position writing advertising copy for shampoo. Her husband, Dan, who fought in two wars, sells ties and cooks dinner. A Jewish couple living in an exclusive suburb of New York, Myrmy powers through her life in high heels and Dan silently suffers the mysterious aftereffects of a radiation experiment conducted by the military. Together they raise a family.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A tightly crafted, emotionally resonant debut novel set in the 1950s and '60s skims the upwardly mobile lives of an unconventional Jewish family on the far edges of the New York suburbs. When Madison Avenue advertising executive Myrmy moves her growing family out of Brooklyn, she is directed away from the Waspy Charmington, Conn., to the less restrictive Eastly-for "people like you," the realtor advises. Thus begins an ambivalent life on Pink Cloud Lane for prefeminist working mother Myrmy, her steady GI husband, Dan (whose lungs were damaged in army radiation experiments), three sons hard-won after several miscarriages, and the indispensable nanny in nurse's whites. Hectic household rhythms and run-ins with the goyishe neighbors Ed and Mary Fence and their six daughters provide some comic relief until illness disrupts married life for Myrmy and Dan, who alternately narrate the novel. Myrmy weathers promotions and pneumonia, while Dan suffers from a burned-out thyroid and suddenly dies. With evocative, freewheeling prose ("the run-on sentences that were her married life"), Hill, an ad copywriter himself, nimbly salvages one family's striving from an era of grasping and consumerism. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Cerebral first novel about a postwar Jewish-American couple who refuse to fit in the box society assigns them. As his wife, Myrmy, remarks, Army veteran and traveling necktie salesman Dan has interests different than most Jewish men in the early 1960s. He gravitates towards physical activities like boxing and weightlifting, but he also cooks dinner for his family on most nights. Myrmy, for her part, rejects housedresses in favor of high heels, working as an advertising executive in New York even after her sons are born. The couple live in an upscale suburb, to which they are relegated after a realtor tells them that their first choice is not for people "like them." They raise three boys while battling such hardships as Myrmy's dangerous bout with pneumonia and Dan's troubling ailments provoked by a thyroid burned out from radiation exposure during his military service. Their life together isn't perfect, but when Dan suddenly dies, Myrmy realizes that it is impossible in many ways to understand herself without him. Alternate, nearly stream-of-consciousness narrations by Myrmy and Dan deftly delineate their respective methods of dealing with the same issues. In the most poignant instance, she makes smart retorts to an acquaintance who brings up her miscarriage, while he silently fumes at his smug neighbors and their six healthy daughters. The novel is hardly plot-driven, and sticking with it takes patience. But in flitting seamlessly from the mundane details of daily life to broader questions of love, family, priorities and death, the author has created a startlingly realistic depiction of the way the mind functions. Not for everyone, but undeniably impressive and well executed.
From the Publisher

“From the first glorious sentence to its last astounding word, Robert Hill's When All Is Said and Done is a treasure.” —TOM SPANBAUER

“Hill has written a breakneck, wisecracking, tenderhearted, socially revealing portrait of an unusual early 1960s American marriage.” —Booklist

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555974428
Publisher:
Graywolf Press
Publication date:
03/21/2006
Pages:
112
Product dimensions:
5.83(w) x 7.81(h) x 0.91(d)

Meet the Author

Robert Hill writes advertising copy for movies and grants for not-for-profit organizations. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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