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Magnificence
     

Magnificence

2.0 7
by Lydia Millet
 

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One of Publishers Weekly’s best books of 2012

An IndieNext pick Named one of the best books of 2012 by Jonathan Lethem

“[Magnificence is] elegant, darkly comic. . . with overtones variously of Muriel Spark, Edward Gorey and JG Ballard, full of contemporary wit and devilish fateful turns for her characters, and then also to knit

Overview

One of Publishers Weekly’s best books of 2012

An IndieNext pick Named one of the best books of 2012 by Jonathan Lethem

“[Magnificence is] elegant, darkly comic. . . with overtones variously of Muriel Spark, Edward Gorey and JG Ballard, full of contemporary wit and devilish fateful turns for her characters, and then also to knit together into a tapestry of vast implication and ethical urgency, something as large as any writer could attempt: a kind of allegorical elegy for life on a dying planet. Ours, that is.” —Jonathan Lethem

A woman embarks on a dazzling new phase in her life after inheriting a sprawling mansion and its vast collection of taxidermy.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
Bad things happen in the surreal landscape of Lydia Millet's Los Angeles…But despite the smog, the traffic and the hideous, soul-killing office parks, you couldn't call this L.A. noir. It's as colorful as the flock of parrots that inexplicably flies through Millet's suburbs. Amid all the misery, a certain innate good nature—and a desire to survive—shine through. A three-legged dog that stumps through the novel could serve as a mascot for Millet's grim but grinning vision: tail wagging, the maimed dog just keeps on keepin' on.
—Lisa Zeidner
Publishers Weekly
Suddenly alone after the death of her husband, Susan Lindley is unmoored in Millet’s elegant meditation on death and what it means to be alone, even when you’re not, in this companion piece to How the Dead Dream and Ghost Lights. When Susan’s boss, T., goes missing in a Central American jungle, her husband, Hal, flies down to find him, a “generous” gesture that Susan sees as an “excuse to get away from her” after an “unpleasant discovery, namely her having sex with a co-worker on the floor of her office.” But when T. appears alone at the airport, bearing news that Hal has died in a mugging, Susan takes her husband’s death as “the punishment for her lifestyle.” Susan’s prickly, paraplegic adult daughter, Casey, who recently traded college for phone sex work, slips into a grief that “seemed to be shifting to melancholy,” which doesn’t help Susan assuage her guilty conscience; nor does the closeness of the relationship that begins to bud between Casey and T. But into the mourning comes an unexpected ray of light: Susan’s great uncle, whom she only vaguely remembers, wills her an enormous Pasadena estate overrun with taxidermy. Every room is filled with all manner of exotic beasts, divided into “themes.” Surprising everyone, including herself, Susan moves in and the taxidermy menagerie becomes a comfort, a way to bring order to a chaotic world, particularly when angry relatives come calling. A dazzling prose stylist, Millet elevates her story beyond that tired tale of a grieving widow struggling to move on, instead exploring grief and love as though they were animals to be stuffed, burrowing in deep and scooping out the innermost layers. Agent: Maria Massie, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. (Nov.)
The Guardian
“[Magnificence is] elegant, darkly comic…with overtones variously of Muriel Spark, Edward Gorey and J. G. Ballard, full of contemporary wit and devilish fateful turns for her characters, and then also to knit together into a tapestry of vast implication and ethical urgency, something as large as any writer could attempt: a kind of allegorical elegy for life on a dying planet. Ours, that is.”— Jonathan Lethem
Los Angeles Times
“Lydia Millet's Magnificence is a novel of ideas. I mean that as a high compliment, for the ideas Millet invokes are the only ones that matter: life, death, love, longing, extinction, the ongoing existential quandary of what we are doing here.... [A]n ambitious book, not so much for the sweep of its action, which is essentially domestic, but for its deep and nuanced investigation of inner life....”— David Ulin
Jonathan Lethem - The Guardian
“[Magnificence is] elegant, darkly comic…with overtones variously of Muriel Spark, Edward Gorey and J. G. Ballard, full of contemporary wit and devilish fateful turns for her characters, and then also to knit together into a tapestry of vast implication and ethical urgency, something as large as any writer could attempt: a kind of allegorical elegy for life on a dying planet. Ours, that is.”
David Ulin - Los Angeles Times
“Lydia Millet's Magnificence is a novel of ideas. I mean that as a high compliment, for the ideas Millet invokes are the only ones that matter: life, death, love, longing, extinction, the ongoing existential quandary of what we are doing here.... [A]n ambitious book, not so much for the sweep of its action, which is essentially domestic, but for its deep and nuanced investigation of inner life....”
Boston Globe
“...[W]arm, moving, funny, earnest, hopeful, honest, and engaged in a way at odds with current literary fashion…Millet’s lush prose has you in her thrall from the start.”— Jenny Hendrix
San Francisco Chronicle
“...[U]unnervingly talented Lydia Millet completes a trilogy... each stands independently; you can read just one of them if you please. But you won't want to, any more than you'd want to leave Chez Panisse after the appetizer.... There is something of Paula Fox in the way Millet provokes deep thinking without being overbearing. But I hate to compare Millet to anyone; she's truly an original.”— Mary Pols
Daily Beast
“Millet is simply an incredible writer. Her prose displays the exceedingly rare combination of philosophical introspection with poetic grace and flourish.”— Nicholas Mancusi
Salon
“[A] novel of ideas or philosophy, disguised as a portrait of one woman’s midlife upheaval.”— Laura Miller
Minnesota Star Tribune
“Millet's writing is as lush as the house Susan lives in. There's a marvelous musicality to her prose; she's a writer who tackles human emotions with scientific precision and an artist's voice…. There's a cataloging going on here of the ways that people navigate the world once their world has shifted; Millet does a fine job of breathing life into people who are surrounded by dead things.”— Michele Filgate
Miami Herald
“There’s much to explore in Magnificence, which is ambitious, often funny and deliciously provocative. One needn’t have read the entire series to be consumed by its pleasures, but by the time you reach its beautiful end, considerable comfort lies in the existence of two more novels in which to delight in Millet’s writing and imagination.”— Christine Thomas
Mary Pols - San Francisco Chronicle
“...[U]unnervingly talented Lydia Millet completes a trilogy... each stands independently; you can read just one of them if you please. But you won't want to, any more than you'd want to leave Chez Panisse after the appetizer.... There is something of Paula Fox in the way Millet provokes deep thinking without being overbearing. But I hate to compare Millet to anyone; she's truly an original.”
Michele Filgate - Minnesota Star Tribune
“Millet's writing is as lush as the house Susan lives in. There's a marvelous musicality to her prose; she's a writer who tackles human emotions with scientific precision and an artist's voice…. There's a cataloging going on here of the ways that people navigate the world once their world has shifted; Millet does a fine job of breathing life into people who are surrounded by dead things.”
New York Times Book Review
[A]s colorful as the flock of parrots that inexplicably flies through Millet’s suburbs… provocative, evocative.— Lisa Zeidner
The National
Millet's smooth, witty and at times intoxicatingly beautiful prose gulls us... [we] simply succumb to her lyricism, shrewd observations and abundant inventiveness. ...Bittersweet and brilliant, Magnificence is the worthy finale to a cycle of novels that shines an original light on the complexities of love and loss.— Malcolm Forbes
The Buffalo News.com
Lydia Millet probes life’s meaning as only Lydia Millet can in Magnificence—the third and perhaps most striking, novel in a trilogy that is, at once, comic, tragic, and strange as can be…. A veritable feast for the mind (and the funny bone).— Karen Brady
Elle
[A] rousing finish to an admired cycle of novels.... [S]urprising, elemental, funny, shred, and affecting.— Julia Holmes
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Exquisite and wholly original.— Tricia Springstubb
Flavorwire
[G]orgeous.— Emily Temple
Library Journal
Death and damage hover over the tenth work of fiction by Pulitzer Prize finalist Millet (Love in Infant Monkeys), yet it's a refreshingly buoyant and unsentimental tale. After her husband's death, Susan Lindley seeks a new direction, which she finds unexpectedly in an inherited mansion full of taxidermied animals. Into that house she eventually welcomes an assortment of people also in need of repair, including an unhappily married man and an elderly woman who needs to be needed. Beyond the activities of this menagerie is a plot about the psychic healing of Susan's daughter, confined to a wheelchair years before as the result of a car accident. The characters all find a kind of salvation, but in very convincing ways. The story develops naturally, an ironic contrast to the artificiality of the preserved animals, and the novel becomes a lyrical meditation on what it takes to survive and evolve. VERDICT Recommended for fans of How the Dead Dream and Ghost Lights, the first two books in this trilogy. Millet's spare but powerful prose also calls to mind the work of J.M. Coetzee. [See Prepub Alert, 5/12/12.]—Evelyn Beck, Piedmont Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC
Kirkus Reviews
Millet's conclusion of the trilogy that includes How the Dead Dream (2008) and Ghost Lights (2011) draws a detailed map of the healing process of an adulterous wife who suddenly finds herself a widow. Susan's husband, Hal, goes to Belize in search of Susan's employer ,T., a real estate tycoon who has gone missing. (Spoiler alert: Readers of the earlier novels who don't want to know what happens to T. or Hal, stop reading now.) Hal's quest is successful: T. returns to Los Angeles. But he's alone, because Hal has been fatally knifed in a mugging. Susan is both grief- and guilt-stricken. She genuinely loved Hal but has been seeking sex with other men ever since a car accident left their daughter, Casey, a paraplegic. She believes Hal went to Belize largely to recover after discovering her infidelity. Millet's early chapters insightfully delve into Susan's internal anguish as she tries to come to grips with the seismic change in her life caused by Hal's death. Her intense maternal love for Casey, who refuses the role of noble victim, is as prickly and complicated as her mourning; her capacity for experiencing extremes of selflessness and selfishness within a heartbeat is refreshingly human and recognizable. Plot machinations get a little creaky, though once Susan sells her house and coincidentally inherits a mansion full of stuffed animals from a great-uncle she barely remembers. Bringing the mansion back to life and figuring out the secret of her uncle's legacy take over Susan's life. The deeply honest, beautiful meditations on love, grief and guilt give way to a curlicued comic-romantic mystery complete with a secret basement and assorted eccentrics.
NewYorker.com
“Millet’s prose, which is both sensitive and strange... creates a thick atmosphere that immediately pulls the reader deep into this saga of love, death, sex, and taxidermy.”
Booklist
“Starred review. Millet brings her searching, bitterly funny, ecologically attuned trilogy of Los Angeles–based novels (How the Dead Dream, 2008; Ghost Lights, 2011) to a haunting crescendo. ...Millet is extraordinarily agile and powerful here, moving from light to shadow like a stalking lioness....”
Jenny Hendrix - Boston Globe
“...[W]arm, moving, funny, earnest, hopeful, honest, and engaged in a way at odds with current literary fashion…Millet’s lush prose has you in her thrall from the start.”
Christine Thomas - Miami Herald
“There’s much to explore in Magnificence, which is ambitious, often funny and deliciously provocative. One needn’t have read the entire series to be consumed by its pleasures, but by the time you reach its beautiful end, considerable comfort lies in the existence of two more novels in which to delight in Millet’s writing and imagination.”
From the Publisher
Earphones Award Winner. "[Xe] Sands presents a complex character whose complaints are balanced by a quirky sense of humor and musings on the meaning of life. Sands's narration is nuanced, entertaining, and thoughtful as Susan emerges from her self-absorption and takes on the role of conservator of the house and its inhabitants." - AudioFile Magazine
A Best Fiction Book of 2012. Starred review. "A dazzling prose stylist, Millet elevates her story beyond that tired tale of a grieving widow struggling to move on, instead exploring grief and love as though they were animals to be stuffed, burrowing in deep and scooping out the innermost layers." - Publishers Weekly
Starred review. "Millet is extraordinarily agile and powerful here, moving from light to shadow like a stalking lioness as Susan's strange stewardship casts light on extinction and preservation, how we care for others and seek or hide truth, and crimes both intimate and planetary." - Booklist
One of the "Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2012 Book Preview" titles. - The Millions
"...provocative, evocative...[Millet's] oblique, elliptical style serves her vision well." - The New York Times
"...Millet's lush prose has you in her thrall from the start..." - The Boston Globe
"Millet's writing is as lush as the house Susan lives in. There's a marvelous musicality to her prose; she's a writer who tackles human emotions with scientific precision and an artist's voice." - Star Tribune
"Magnificence, the final book of a trilogy, is more fable than realism, and promises a kind of moral or eerie warning at the end. It is also more of a long short story than a novel, as all of these subplots are funneled into the service of a single, graceful, short-story-like epiphany." - The Globe and Mail
Jonathan Lethem
“[Magnificence is] elegant, darkly comic…with overtones variously of Muriel Spark, Edward Gorey and J. G. Ballard, full of contemporary wit and devilish fateful turns for her characters, and then also to knit together into a tapestry of vast implication and ethical urgency, something as large as any writer could attempt: a kind of allegorical elegy for life on a dying planet. Ours, that is.”
Nicholas Mancusi - Daily Beast
“Millet is simply an incredible writer. Her prose displays the exceedingly rare combination of philosophical introspection with poetic grace and flourish.”
Laura Miller - Salon
“[A] novel of ideas or philosophy, disguised as a portrait of one woman’s midlife upheaval.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393081701
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
11/05/2012
Series:
How the Dead Dream Series , #3
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Earphones Award Winner. "[Xe] Sands presents a complex character whose complaints are balanced by a quirky sense of humor and musings on the meaning of life. Sands's narration is nuanced, entertaining, and thoughtful as Susan emerges from her self-absorption and takes on the role of conservator of the house and its inhabitants." - AudioFile Magazine A Best Fiction Book of 2012. Starred review. "A dazzling prose stylist, Millet elevates her story beyond that tired tale of a grieving widow struggling to move on, instead exploring grief and love as though they were animals to be stuffed, burrowing in deep and scooping out the innermost layers." - Publishers Weekly Starred review. "Millet is extraordinarily agile and powerful here, moving from light to shadow like a stalking lioness as Susan's strange stewardship casts light on extinction and preservation, how we care for others and seek or hide truth, and crimes both intimate and planetary." - Booklist One of the "Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2012 Book Preview" titles. - The Millions
"...provocative, evocative...[Millet's] oblique, elliptical style serves her vision well." - The New York Times
"...Millet's lush prose has you in her thrall from the start..." - The Boston Globe
"Millet's writing is as lush as the house Susan lives in. There's a marvelous musicality to her prose; she's a writer who tackles human emotions with scientific precision and an artist's voice." - Star Tribune
"Magnificence, the final book of a trilogy, is more fable than realism, and promises a kind of moral or eerie warning at the end. It is also more of a long short story than a novel, as all of these subplots are funneled into the service of a single, graceful, short-story-like epiphany." - The Globe and Mail

Meet the Author

Lydia Millet is the author of the novels Sweet Lamb of Heaven, Mermaids in Paradise, Ghost Lights (a New York Times Notable Book), Magnificence (finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize) and other books. Her story collectionLove in Infant Monkeys was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. She lives outside Tucson, Arizona.

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Magnificence: A Novel 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is well written, easy to read, and it felt like I was living among these characters. I think the author made a strong point abt the vulnerability of wild animals in a world dominated by humans with little concern for their survival.
Bigmist8k More than 1 year ago
LAB54 I'm with you! Makes me want to purchase and send them an ABC Primer. The book was okay - not great - but okay. The author definitely has a different style of writing than I am used to but it was something different to read about. A welcomed break after my recent James Patterson "serial killer" bing.
LAB54 More than 1 year ago
I haven't read the book, but I had to comment on the review titled "Rondom," which said the rater "dint like this book" and the book "was a waist of money." The rater told us not to "get thish book" because "i dont like the style of writing or the charictors." The rater "hayed" the book." Is any literate person going to trust the review of a person who cannot spell correctly or punctuate properly? I certainly hope not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not very good at all
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book because it is a book that i would not want to put down and for all you people out there who either read this book or not i am just letting you know that i hope you enjoyed this book and if you haven't read it yet you will like it but that is your opinion not mine so for people who haven't read it yet you will not want to put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dint like this book even my mom said it was a waist of money. Do not get thish book i dont like the style of writing or the charictors. I would rate it a two, my sister reads EVERYTHING and loves it she read this and hayed it in other words dont read it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very bad