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The More I Owe You
     

The More I Owe You

4.0 3
by Michael Sledge
 

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In this mesmerizing debut novel, Michael Sledge creates an intimate portrait of the beloved poet Elizabeth Bishop — of her life in Brazil and her relationship with her lover, the dazzling, aristocratic Lota de Macedo Soares. Sledge artfully draws from Bishop’s lifelong correspondences and biography to imagine the poet’s intensely private world,

Overview


In this mesmerizing debut novel, Michael Sledge creates an intimate portrait of the beloved poet Elizabeth Bishop — of her life in Brazil and her relationship with her lover, the dazzling, aristocratic Lota de Macedo Soares. Sledge artfully draws from Bishop’s lifelong correspondences and biography to imagine the poet’s intensely private world, revealing the literary genius who lived in conflict with herself both as a writer and as a woman.
A seemingly idyllic existence in Soares’s glass house in the jungle gives way to the truth of Bishop’s lifelong battle with alcoholism, as well as her eventual status as one of modernism’s most prominent writers. Though connected to many of the most famous cultural and political figures of the era, Soares too is haunted by her own demons. As their secrets unfold, the sensuous landscape of Rio de Janeiro, the rhythms of the samba and the bossa nova, and the political turmoil of 1950s Brazil envelop Bishop in a world she never expected to inhabit. The More I Owe You is a vivid portrait of two brilliant women whose love for one another pushes them to accomplish enduring works of art.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In his first novel, memoirist Sledge (Mother and Son) imagines the life of poet Elizabeth Bishop and her lover, socialite and architect Lota de Macedo Soares, while they lived together in Brazil during the 1950s and '60s. Both women struggle with their demons as, from a remote mountain compound in Samambaia (where Lota has designed and built a glass house), Elizabeth wins the Pulitzer Prize and Lota rises to power in the turbulent political sphere of Rio de Janeiro. The book imagines much of the couple's tumultuous, tragically short relationship, based partially on Elizabeth's surviving letters, journals, and drafts (though her correspondence with Lota was burned by Lota's ex-lover). Sledge gives contour to their lives while artfully evoking Brazil's “primeval” rural landscape and uniquely urbane Rio (“half jungle” and “half twentieth-century megalopolis”), and peppers his narrative with appearances by notable contemporaries like Robert Lowell and Frank O'Hara. This is not the first fictionalized history of the couple during this period (when Bishop wrote Questions of Travel and “The Scream”), but Sledge delivers a sensitive and engrossing variation. (June)
From the Publisher

Praise for The More I Owe You

“A moving novel of an illicit and impassioned relationship.” —Kirkus

“Sledge’s cinematic novel is as lush and fecund as the jungle itself, with its innumerable fruits, ferns, and hidden dangers, leaving readers with the indelible image of a brilliant, tormented woman writing tirelessly through the tropic night by the light of a kerosene lamp . . . Strong and intoxicating.” —Booklist

"A novel of extraordinary beauty, intimacy, and such consummate tenderness for its complex Elizabeth that one wonders how Sledge managed to slide so close to her soul. A gorgeous meditation on enduring love, damage, and what it can be to be happy, for however brief a moment. Bravo, bravo, bravo." —Stacey D'Erasmo, author of The Sky Below

"A beautiful dream of a book. Sumptuously detailed, deeply felt, it is as if Sledge slipped back in time and walked every step with Elizabeth Bishop, breathed every breath with her." —Alison Smith, author of Name All the Animals

Praise for Mother and Son

"[A] sensitive account." —Publishers Weekly

"This book manages to be intimate and completely honest without being sentimental or self-indulgent. One of the finest examples of memoir I've ever read." —Chad LeJeune, author of The Worry Trap

"Such affecting prose stays with us long after book's end." —The San Francisco Chronicle

"Michael Sledge has created unforgettable scenes . . . he has been honest enough to allow us to see how a tiny aberration can spin a life into patterns no one dreamed of." —The New York Times Book Review

"A courageous endeavor." —San Francisco Focus Magazine

Brenda Wineapple
Novels about poets—imaginary gardens with real toads in them—inevitably trigger comparisons between the invented poet's language and that of the real poet, usually to the novel's disadvantage. Exceptions are rare: Pat Barker's Siegfried Sassoon, Penelope Fitzgerald's Novalis, David Malouf's Ovid are characters who speak authoritatively in voices we accept—and so, to a large extent, does Sledge's Bishop.
—The New York Times

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781582435763
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
05/25/2010
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,378,459
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

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The More I Owe You 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
dried_squid More than 1 year ago
The following review led me to this book. I'm a hobby photographer, and "vividly realized" struck a chord. Listening to bossa nova music enhanced the equation. Heard about it on pbs. "Conversation: Best Unsung Books of 2010". Posted by Jeffrey Brown , December 21, 2010 "... It's a fairly short novel, and we're at some distance to the material; the author is a man writing in the 21st century about two women living in South America, you know, almost a half a century ago. It's so vividly realized, not only the setting, the environment and the culture of the place that he's writing about, but the lives of the two women, their minds, their emotions, their relationship is presented with such a palpable electricity...." I'm not a reader of poetry, and was unfamiliar with Elizabeth Bishop. I was looking for something off the mainstream, and I enjoyed the "novel" thoroughly. Because of photography and jazz, I read about Brazil.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago